Over the last eighteen to twenty four months, social media marketing has undergone a boom within many industry sectors. New company Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts are appearing on a daily basis, as well as company blogs. But how is social media really being used?

A six month study is currently being run by The Chartered Institute of Marketing who are looking at 1,500 marketers to see how they are adapting to, investing in and getting value from social media; in an effort to help companies understand how they can improve their online marketing campaigns in the future.

The first bunch of results were released at the end of February 2012 have made for interesting reading as they show which platforms are being used the most by marketers, what they’re being used for and how effective marketers found their campaigns during 2011.

We’ve already examined some of the results from the study in two of our previous blog “Measuring Social Media Marketing Success” and “Don’t Always Believe the Social Media Marketing Statistics”.

Today, we’re going to look at the rest of the findings from the study; at the same time as explaining how they can benefit those businesses looking to take their first steps into the world of online marketing.

Which Platforms to Use:

The study has found that seventy-one percent of the 1,500 marketers are using Twitter for the main elements of their campaign, whilst fifty-six percent are utilising Facebook and fifty-three percent LinkedIn.

However, just because more marketers are using Twitter as their main platform, it doesn’t mean that your business should.

Before opting for one social network over another, you should consider who you want to appeal to. Are you looking for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) interaction, Business-to-Business (B2B) interaction or both B2C and B2B?

According to The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s study LinkedIn is a more prominent network for those looking for B2B interaction; whilst Facebook was used more for those businesses looking for B2C interaction.

The study also found that Twitter, saw little variation between B2C and B2B.

Who Is Managing Your Social Media…..

Despite many misconceptions, online marketing via social networks isn’t as simple as posting a quick status update advising your fans / followers / friends of a new product or service. Yet the study into how marketers are using social media revealed that businesses are still managing their social media ineffectively.

Twenty-eight percent of the marketers who participated in the survey admitted that the management of their social media remains undefined and inconsistent from campaign to campaign; whilst twenty-three percent distributed the tasks amongst the marketing team.

On the other hand, five percent of participants said they outsourced their social media, four percent said it was managed by a dedicated social media manager and twenty-nine percent said it was looked after by a social media champion.

…..And Are They Equipped?

Whilst there is no denying that having someone who understands your business, products and services running your social media marketing campaign is beneficial; it is equally important to have someone running your campaign who is equipped and understands social media.

This, however, seems to be an area where many businesses are falling down, with the findings showing:

• 19% are fundamentally ill-equipped
• 31% consider themselves below their industry average
• 32% consider their social media marketing skills to be average and only 6% believe their skills and competencies are optimal.

The group of statistics above may go someway to highlighting why the statistics mentioned within “Don’t Always Believe the Social Media Marketing Statistics” are as they are.

For any business, whether you’re looking to take your first steps into or you’ve ran numerous campaigns, it is important to have someone running your campaign that not only understands your business model / what your business is about, but also understands and is passionate about social media.

Why Are You Using Social Media?

So we know which platforms to use for what and who should be running the social media element of your business; but why are you using social media?

Worryingly, three-percent of participants in the The Chartered Institute of Marketing study admitted they didn’t know why they were using it, whilst two-percent were using it because their competitors do.

The rest of the participants said they were using it because customers use it (18%); it’s expected (12%); it’s a core part of their marketing campaign (27%) or they were “just experimenting” (28%).

Whilst there is no right or wrong answer as to why you’re using social media as a form of marketing; it is important for businesses to have a strategy in place.

Your social media marketing strategy should explain what you want to achieve by using the platforms available and how you plan to achieve these goals. Without such a strategy your marketing campaign is likely to lack direction and consequently run the risk of not proving as beneficial as a competitor’s who has a plan of action in place.

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Categories: Blog