9 in 10 marketers say that social media is important to their business, with the most commonly cited benefits being increased exposure and traffic, according to the 8th annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner. Based on a survey of more than 5,000 marketers, the study offers some insights into the directions social media marketing will take in the near future.
While social media brings it with various benefits, it does present some difficulties for respondents. For example, respondents were more likely to agree (40%) than disagree (33%) that social media marketing has become more difficult in the past year. And while two-thirds analyze their social media activities, just 41% agree that they’re able to measure the ROI of those activities, a figure that hasn’t improved in recent years. Perhaps as a result, only 46% agree that their Facebook marketing is effective, with more than one-third unsure.
Most Popular Platforms
Despite thoseÂ headwinds, marketers are active on various social platforms. For now, the most popular platform is Facebook (93%), followed by Twitter (76%) and LinkedIn (67%). The second-tier of platforms in terms of current usage are YouTube (53%), Google+ (49%), Instagram (44%), and Pinterest (40%), while other platforms haven’t seen adoption of more thanÂ 1 in 8 respondents.
Of course, social channel use and importance varies among B2C and B2B marketers. Not surprisingly, B2B marketers continue to favor LinkedIn to a greater degree than B2C marketers (86% and 58% using, respectively), with B2B marketers also much more likely to be using Slideshare (21% vs. 6%). For their part, B2C marketers are more apt to be using Facebook (96% vs. 88%), Instagram (51% vs. 33%), and Pinterest (45% vs. 34%).
Those differences show up in marketers’ most important platforms, also. Roughly 2 in 3 B2C marketers name Facebook their most important platform, with Twitter trailing distantly in second (11% share). Among B2B marketers, a plurality (40%) cite LinkedIn as their most important platform, narrowly ahead of Facebook (37%), with Twitter third.
These figures are relatively unchanged from last year, when Facebook and LinkedIn were also the most important platforms for B2C and B2B marketers, respectively.
(For more on how B2B firms are using social media, see MarketingCharts’ B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report.)
Platforms Gaining in Importance
Despite already being the platform with the broadest adoption among marketers, Facebook (67%) emerges as the one forÂ which the largest share will increase their efforts, per the report. That’s likely a reflection of its status as the most important platform overall, with B2C marketers (70%) being more likely than their B2B counterparts (61%) to see increased Facebook efforts on the horizon.
Beyond Facebook, 63% of respondents plan to increase their use of YouTube, with Twitter (61%) and LinkedIn (61%) close behind in terms of planned increases. Twitter has taken a step back this year (perhaps due to low engagement rates?), after being the top platform last year for planned increases. Meanwhile, not surprisingly, B2B marketers are more likely to be upping their LinkedIn efforts than B2C marketers (76% and 52%, respectively).
Results for other platforms likewise reveal differences in B2C and B2B marketers’ plans:
- More than 6 in 10 B2C marketers look set to increase their Instagram activities, compared to fewer than half (48%) of B2B marketers;
- Pinterest is also an avenue for increased efforts more for B2C (47%) than B2B (35%) marketers; but
- B2B marketers (33%) are more than twice as likely as B2C marketers (15%) to put more effort into SlideShare.
Meanwhile, there are some interesting figures surrounding Snapchat, the rapidly growing platform among youth.
While surprisingly few (5% of) respondents say they’re currently using Snapchat, 16% expect to grow their activities, more than double the proportion (7%) in last year’s survey. Also, 28% want to learn more about Snapchat this year, up from 19% last year. While that’s evidence of some growth, it doesn’t seem that marketers are adopting the platform at quite the same rate as youth.
That relative reluctance makes sense in light of other survey results. When asked how they respond to new social networks, a majority (51%) said they are skeptical and wait and see what happens. Just 6% actively engage and evangelize their presence on the network, though 1 in 4 try to engage without evangelizing their presence.
Where is Paid Social Media Headed?
Currently, there is one and only one leader in paid social media: Facebook. In fact, almost 9 in 10 respondents said they regularly use Facebook ads. Less than half that proportion, 39%, are using Google ads, with another step back toÂ Twitter (18%), LinkedIn (17%) and Pinterest (15%) ads.
Of note, 12% of respondents this year say they regularly use Instagram ads, triple the proportion (4%) from last year. That’s in line with separate research indicating that Instagram is growing in importance as an advertising channel.
Signs point to Facebook maintaining its dominance in social advertising, however: it is the only platform in which a majority (57%) of respondents expect to increase their paid social media use. By comparison, fewer than 4 in 10 plan to make more use of Google ads (37%), Twitter ads (33%), LinkedIn ads (31%) and Instagram ads (31%).
Video Gaining As A Content Type
Turning to social media content types, marketers identified visual (74%) content as their most commonly used, followed by blogging (68%) and videos (60%). Blogging (38%) and visual content (37%) were essentially tied in terms of the most important content types, though again there are differences by target audience. Those marketing to businesses name blogging their most important content type, while for B2C marketers visual content is the most important.
When it comes to the near future, though, video gains ground. Almost 3 in 4 plan to increase their use of video content in the near future, just ahead of the 71% planning the same for visual content and leading all content types.
Finally, while only about 1 in 7 marketers are currently using live video, 39% plan to soon increase their live video efforts, and only 49% say they have no plans to utilize live video.
About the Data: The report’s results are based on a survey of 5,085 marketers, the majority of whom work for small businesses (1-10 employees). Almost 2 in 3 focus primarily on B2C marketing, with the remaining 35% on B2B.
The majority (52%) of respondents are based in the US.