Almost 2 in 3 companies describe the extent of their social media activity as either heavy (21%) or average (43%), representing a 21% increase from 2010, according to [download page] a November 2011 report from Econsultancy in partnership with LBi and bigmouthmedia. Data from the “State of Social 2011 Report” indicates that concurrent with this increase is a drop in the proportion of companies that say they have only experimented with social media, (down 23% from 40% in 2010 to 31% this year), indicating that more marketers are moving beyond experimentation with the channel and giving it a mainstream role within their organization.
The same pattern is evident on the supply side: while fewer agencies say their clients are experimenting with social media (46% this year vs. 56% in 2010), a greater proportion say their clients are either engaging an average amount (39% vs. 34%) or are heavily involved (13% vs. 8%).
The maturation of social media marketing is likely due to the positive effects marketers are seeing: according to an April 2011 report from SocialMedia Examiner, 88% of marketers believe their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses, while 72% have experienced improved traffic and subscribers. Furthermore, according to a November report from Webmarketing123, social media leads have proved valuable, with 55% of marketers reporting having closed a deal from a social media lead.
Twitter Leads All Platforms
87% of global company respondents to the Econsultancy report use Twitter as part of their social media marketing or online PR activity, compared to 82% who use Facebook. The other giants of the social media space, YouTube (69%) and LinkedIn (57%), are also used by a majority of companies. After that, there is a considerable drop-off to the next platforms, with 19% reporting use of Wikipedia, ahead of Foursquare (15%), Google+ (14%), Vimeo (13%), and Stumbleupon (12%). Delicious and Digg (both at 11%) are the only others with double-digit penetration. The report notes that when the survey was conducted Google had not officially launched a version of Google+ for businesses, but that some companies may have included a +1 button on their site.
Compared to 2010, the proportion of companies using Twitter rose 5%, while YouTube’s popularity grew 19% and LinkedIn’s 12%. Of the top 4 channels, Facebook’s penetration rose the least, inching up 2.5% from 80% in 2010. Meanwhile, Foursquare almost doubled its popularity, increasing to 15% of company respondents from just 8%.
Among supply-side respondents the top 4 also dominates, although Facebook (92%) nudges Twitter (88%) for the top spot.
More See Range of Facebook and Twitter Purposes
According to the report, compared to last year, more companies are using Facebook for a variety of purposes spanning from marketing and sales to brand monitoring and customer service. While the most popular use of Facebook remains as a marketing channel, rising 12% from 67% to 75% of respondents, other purposes have seen more drastic rises in popularity. For example, this year 52% are using the social network to react to customer service issues and inquiries, representing a 56% rise from the 29% who did so in 2010. A similar proportion (51%) are using it to gather customer feedback, up 38% from 37% in 2010. The supply-side responses show a similar across-the-board rise in popularity of the various uses of Facebook, with customer service response also making a large jump from 28% to 49% of respondents.
As with Facebook, the biggest increase in how Twitter is used is for customer service, which grew by 43% of company respondents, from 35% to 50%. Meanwhile, usage of Twitter as a marketing channel (77%) and to publicize new content (74%) remain the leading two categories among companies.
Confidence Grows, But Still Room to Improve
Even though Facebook and Twitter have gained widespread use among companies, a majority believe they can do better integrating their use of the platforms into their over-riding social media strategies. This year 37% of companies said they used Twitter well, up 37% from the 27% who reported such confidence last year. Even so, 50% still believe they can improve their use of the channel, although this is down from 59% of respondents in 2010.
Supply-side respondents’ growing confidence in Facebook is more muted: 27% say they are using the social network well, compared to 25% in 2010. Meanwhile, 58% feel they have room to improve, compared to 55% in 2010.
About the Data: The Econsultancy report is based on an online survey of more than 1,000 respondents, carried out in September and October 2011. Respondents included client-side marketers (or PR and online communications specialists) and supply-side respondents working either independently or for a range of different types of agency or technology vendor.