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socialmediaexaminer-social-media-benefits-april2012.jpgJust 40% of marketers say that their social media marketing has benefited them by improving their sales, down 7% from last year, per an April 2012 report from the Social Media Examiner. Despite this, the results indicate that prolonged investment into the marketing channel pays dividends: the proportion of marketers who report sales improvements from social media rises to 58% among those who have been using the channel for more than 3 years. Similarly, the majority of marketers who spend 11 or more hours a week see results, while nearly two-thirds who spend more than 30 hours weekly earn new business through their efforts.

Soft Metrics Still Rule

Increased exposure topped the list of social media marketing benefits, at 85% of respondents, followed by increased traffic (69%) and marketplace intelligence insights (65%). The prevalence of these benefits may be tied to marketers’ priorities, as well as the metrics they are using to measure their success. For example, according to a December 2011 Awareness survey, increased presence was the top social media marketing investment priority among respondents for this year. The same survey found that while a majority were using social presence (76%), measured by number of followers and fans, and website traffic (67%), as metrics, only 26% had established sales as a social media marketing metric.

More See Lead Gen As Benefit

Marketers may not yet be seeing much sales activity from their social media efforts, but they do appear to be getting more leads. Data from Social Media Examiner’s “2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” indicates that the proportion of marketers citing lead generation as a social media marketing benefit has risen 7% year-over-year to 58% of respondents. In fact, 61% of marketers who spend as little as 6 hours a week on social media marketing see lead generation benefits, representing a 17% increase from 51% in 2011. Other subgroups reporting a higher-than-average benefit in this area include small business owners (65%) and marketers with more than 3 years of experience (78%).

Less See Search Ranking Improvements

A majority of marketers said that their social media marketing efforts helped improve their search rankings, although this was down 11% from 62% last year. Similarly, although 59% of those who have using social media for at least a year said they experienced a boost in search engine rankings, this represents a 19% fall from 73% who responded that way last year. And among those investing a minimum of 6 hours a week on social media marketing, the proportion citing search benefits fell from 65% to 56%.

Other Findings:

  • Large brands were 10% more likely than small businesses to say that they benefited from increased traffic as a result of their social media marketing efforts (75% vs. 68%).
  • B2B companies were 15% more likely than B2C companies to report marketplace intelligence insights from social media (68% vs. 59%).
  • Marketers investing at least 6 hours a week on social media marketing were 30% more likely than those spending up to 5 hours a week to say they benefited from acquiring loyal fans (60% vs. 46%).
  • 83% of marketers said that social media was important for their business, down from 90% in 2011.
  • 18.3% of B2B marketers said they had been using social media for at least 3 years, compared to 14% of B2C marketers.
  • Roughly 3 in 5 marketers are spending at least 6 hours or more on social media marketing per week, with one-third spending more than 10 hours weekly. Those with more years of experience spend more time each week, although the more experienced users are spending less time compared to last year.
  • Younger marketers spend more time on social media marketing, led by those aged 20-29. 43% spend 11 hours or more weekly, followed by 30-39-year-olds, of whom 35% spend that much time.

About the Data: The Social Media Examiner findings are based on a survey of 3,813 marketers, conducted in January 2012. Respondents were roughly split between B2B and B2C focus. 72% were between the ages of 30 and 39, and 62% were females. 57% of participants were based in the US, while 9% were based in Canada, 9% in the UK, and 5% in Australia.

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