The top benefits of social media marketing are increased exposure (89%) and increased traffic (75%), finds Social Media Examiner in its annual “Social Media Marketing Industry Report” [download page], which surveyed more than 3,000 marketers on their social media activities. A majority also report benefits such as developing loyal fans (65%), lead generation (61%), and improved search rankings (58%), but only 43% say their efforts have boosted sales. Nevertheless, study results indicate that for those willing to take the time, sales will follow.
That is, while only a minority report sales improvement on account of social media marketing, that turns to a majority among those who have been using social media for at least 3 years (47% of the survey sample) as well as among those who spend 11 or more hours a week on social media marketing (representing 36% of the sample). Among those few spending 40 or more hours a week on social, 62% say they’ve earned new business. The researchers found similar results last year, although more respondents are seeing each benefit this year.
Of course, the results need to be treated with a little caution, because many marketers still feel unable to measure the ROI of their social media activities. In fact, only 26% of respondents agreed (23%) or strongly agreed (3%) that they are able to measure the return of their social media marketing efforts. That’s a surprisingly low figure, particularly if 43% feel they can confidently attribute improved sales to social.
Another interesting result pertains to the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. The survey finds that 86% of marketers overall find social media to be important to their businesses. Meanwhile, Facebook is the most popular platform, used by 92% of respondents, with 49% rating it their most important social platform. Given Facebook’s almost ubiquitous use, and favorable attitudes towards social media as a whole, one would expect that marketers are positive about Facebook’s effectiveness. But, just 37% either agreed (32%) or strongly agreed (5%) with the statement: “My Facebook marketing is effective.”
That suggests that while respondents feel that social media is an important part of their marketing mix, Facebook marketing may be seen more as a necessary component of their social activities rather than the most effective component.
- B2C marketers were 52% more likely than B2B marketers to agree that their Facebook marketing is effective (44% vs. 29%). Large companies (with 1,000 or more employees) were similarly more likely than self-employed respondents to find their efforts rewarding (46% vs. 29%).
- While 54% of respondents overall said social helps them build new partnerships, that figure rose to more than 60% among those with 3 years or more of experience.
- At least 60% of marketers spending 6 hour or more a week on social media said they saw improvements in their search engine rankings.
About the Data: The data is based on responses from 3,025 participants. 56% primarily target consumers and 44% businesses. 72% of respondents are aged 30-59, and females represented 62% of the survey sample. 57% are based in the US, with the UK (9%) the next-most heavily represented country.