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Social media marketing continues to prove effective for businesses, as shown in the latest survey of more than 1,800 marketing professionals from Buffer. At least that’s the view of the respondent sample, almost three-quarters (73%) of whom believe that social media marketing has been either very or somewhat effective for their businesses.

As platforms such as Facebook and Twitter get well into their teenage years, that finding is likely to be seen as received wisdom. So what’s new? Social media Stories, the ephemeral format first developed by Snapchat, has been making a splash, with Buffer dubbing this as the ‘next frontier.’ Consumers are particularly receptive to hearing from brands in this format, with social media users in the US preferring to see brand content in Stories as opposed to their feed. This desire hasn’t been lost on marketers – in 2018, more than two-thirds of B2C marketers used or developed Stories.

But how effective are Stories? The stats from Buffer suggests they perform well. More than half (57.6%) of the marketers revealed that social media Stories have been somewhat or very effective as part of their social media strategy. While some 35% of marketers were uncertain of the effect stories were having, only a few (7.7%) felt that Stories were somewhat or very ineffective.

Increased effectiveness means a larger portion of advertising budgets are now going towards Stories. The third quarter of 2018, for example, saw one-quarter of Instagram budgets being spent on Instagram Stories. And while the data from the Buffer survey shows that 62.9% of businesses had not invested in Stories ads, this is likely to soon change. This year, 61% of respondents plan on investing more in this format.

Influencers Still Matter

When it comes to who has the most influence over purchase decision-making, friends and family are still the most trusted sources. However, online influencers are still effective in social media marketing. While only slightly more than one-third of the respondents reported having worked with influencers, more than two-thirds of those felt that influencer marketing is somewhat to very effective.

The majority (88.4%) of brands currently using influencer marketing plan to continue to invest in it in 2019. That being said, 3 in 5 (59.6%) marketers also felt that the regulations and guidelines for influencer marketing were, at least to some extent, unclear.

Messaging Apps Not Feeling the Love

While stories and influencers are being used by more and more brands, messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger are being virtually ignored by marketers. This is despite findings from an international survey that showed that 65% of the 8,000+ respondents would be happy to communicate with companies via messenger services.

This may be due to the fact that ad formats are not as richly developed on these platforms as they are on the likes of Facebook and Instagram.

Slightly more than 7 in 10 (71.4%) are currently not using messaging apps for marketing, with half (50.6%) of the respondents not planning to do so this year. Of that other half that will be using them, more than one-third (37.1%) will use Messenger, while about one-fifth (21.8%) will use WhatsApp. The remainder plan to use Slack (7.2%), Telegram (3.7%), WeChat (3.5%), Viber (2.1%) or another (2.4%).

Other Survey Highlights

Here are a few other points coming out of Buffer’s research:

  • Less than two-fifths (36.7%) of businesses publish video content monthly, while another one-quarter publish it on a weekly (24.3%) basis. Around 1 in 8 (12.9%) so do daily.
  • Businesses post video content most often on Facebook (81.2%) followed by YouTube (62.9%), Instagram (57.8%) and Twitter (45.6%).
  • The majority (89.3%) of survey respondents believe that social media is either somewhat or very important to their overall marketing strategy.
  • Businesses are using several social media channels with Facebook (93.7%), Twitter (84.4%), Instagram (80.9%), LinkedIn (70%) and YouTube (61.8%) being the platforms most commonly used by marketers.

The rest of the survey results can be found here.

About the Data: Buffer’s data is based on a survey of 1,842 marketing professionals. Respondents worked for companies representing various industries with fewer than 10 employees up to 1,000 employees.

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