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SocialMediaExaminer-Most-Important-Social-Platform-B2B-v-B2C-May2015B2C marketers are most likely to be found using Facebook (96%) and Twitter (77%), while for B2B marketers LinkedIn is on par with Facebook (88% each) as the most commonly used social platform, according to Social Media Examiner’s latest annual “Social Media Marketing Industry Report” [pdf]. But which platform is most important? The results are none too surprising, but a worth a look.

Among B2C marketers, it’s not even a race, per the results, with 65% indicating that Facebook is the single most important platform for their business. Trailing distantly are Twitter (10%) and LinkedIn (9%), with no other platform cracking 5% share of respondents.

It’s a different story among B2B marketers, a plurality (41%) of whom cited LinkedIn as their most important social network, ahead of Facebook (30%). As with LinkedIn, Twitter (19%) seems to also be a more important platform to B2B than B2C marketers.

LinkedIn appears to have distanced itself from Facebook this year for B2B marketers; in last year’s results, the two were neck and neck in importance.

Beyond the “most important” platforms, the study also contains some interesting results regarding adoption of the various identified platforms by marketers:

  • Some 42% of B2C respondents are now using Instagram, up from about one-third last year;
  • Twitter and YouTube are the platforms for which the most marketers (65.8% each) plan to increase their activities in the near future, although those plans haven’t always led to action in the past;
  • A slight majority (52%) plan to increase their Instagram activities, with this more common among B2C (60%) than B2B (40%) marketers;
  • Interestingly, an equal percentage of marketers (52%) plan to increase their Google+ activities;
  • SlideShare, now used by roughly one-quarter of B2B marketers, is slated for an increase in activity by 43% of B2B respondents;
  • Few (15% of) marketers overall plan to increase their activities on Vine; and
  • More than 8 in 10 respondents have no plans to use Snapchat.

Meanwhile, the question of ROI continues to dog social media marketers, as just 42% agreed that they are able to measure their social activities. On a more positive note, that 42% figure is up from 37% last year and 26% in 2013.

Still, only a minority 45% of marketers agree that their Facebook marketing is effective, compared with 35% who are uncertain and 19% who feel that their efforts are not effective. Perceptions regarding Facebook’s efficacy are generally unchanged from last year. Still, there are some segments that are more optimistic about their efforts: 51% of B2C marketers agree that they’re effective (versus 36% of their B2B counterparts); and 50% of respondents from companies with at least 1,000 employees likewise find their efforts effective.

Meanwhile, marketers most commonly see the benefit of social media marketing in terms of increased exposure (90%), followed by increased traffic (77%). Only about half (51%) indicate that improved sales are a benefit of social media marketing. As found in prior editions of the study, though, marketers who have more experience with social media are more likely to report improved sales. For example, 7 in 10 respondents who have been using social media for more than 5 years report improved sales, compared to 37% of those who have been using it for less than a year. Time investment also appears to help: almost three-quarters of those who spend more than 40 hours a week marketing on social media report improved sales, roughly twice the share (38%) of those who spent 1-5 hours a week marketing on social platforms. Lead generation benefits follow a similar pattern.

Turning to social content types, the survey indicates that visual assets (71%) and blogging (70%) are commonly used, with a majority (57%) also using video in their social marketing. Podcasting is further behind, used by 1 in 10. Asked to select which of those types is their most important, respondents chose blogging (45%) first, followed by visual assets (34%), videos (19%) and podcasting (2%).

Finally, when it comes to paid social media, Facebook ads are by far the most commonly used, by 84% of respondents, more than double using the next-most common paid social type, Google ads (41%). LinkedIn ads (18%), Twitter ads (17%) and YouTube ads (12%) are less commonly used, but are regularly used by more than 1 in 10. Among paid social platforms, Facebook ads (53%) are most commonly slated for an increase in use, ahead of Google ads (38%) and Twitter ads (31%).

About the Data: Social Media Examiner conducted the survey in January 2015 by emailing a list of 330,000 marketers and asking them to take the survey. On completion of the survey, Social Media Examiner asked participants to tweet about the survey. After 5 days, the survey closed with 3,720 participants.

Some 61% of participants are primarily B2C-focused, with the remainder primarily B2B-focused. 6 in 10 work for small businesses (up to 10 employees), while 17% work from companies with at least 100 employees. Almost 7 in 10 respondents are between the ages of 30 and 59, and 58% are female. Roughly half (52%) of the respondents are based in the US.

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