The use of social media increases sales and brand exposure, improves the opportunity for business partnerships, generates leads, provides marketplace insights and reduces marketing expenses, according to a major study by Social Media Examiner.
The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report is a major survey that looks at how marketers are using social media to grow their businesses.
Some 3800 marketers from around the world took part in the survey. Most participants (57 per cent) were based in the US, followed by Canada and the United Kingdom both with nine per cent.
Australian marketers made up five per cent of the sample.
One stat that jumped out at me is that Google+ is the tool most marketers want to learn more about (70%), with blogs second at 59%, followed by Facebook (58%), LinkedIn (53%), YouTube/other video (52%) and Twitter (51%).
In other words, while a couple of these numbers have dropped from last year's survey, there is still a huge appetite to learn more about the broad range of social media tools available to marketers.
Marketers still place high value on social media: A significant 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business.
Measurement and targeting are top areas marketers want to master: 40% of all social media marketers want to know how to measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and find customers and prospects.
Video marketing holds the top spot for future plans: A significant 76% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube and video marketing, making it the top area marketers will invest in for 2012.
Marketers seek to learn more about Google+: While only 40% of marketers are using Google+, 70% of marketers want to learn more about it and 67% plan on increasing Google+ activities.
Top three benefits of social media marketing: The number-one benefit of social media marketing is generating more business exposure (reported 85% of marketers), followed by increasing traffic (69%) and providing marketplace insight (65%).
Top five social media networks/tools for marketers: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and YouTube were the top five social media tools used by marketers, in that order.
Social media marketing still takes a lot of time: The majority of marketers (59%) are using social media for six hours or more each week, and a third (33%) invest 11 or more hours weekly.
- Social media outsourcing underutilized: Only 30% of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing, only a slight increase from 28% in 2011.
The 42-page 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report is recommended reading for anyone associated with brand marketing.
It's a meaty resource and, while it's US-centric, this is not a bad thing because as we've seen over the past few years we can look to the United States as a guide for what's likely to happen here in Australia.