I love benchmarks – it guides our industry and those of us working in it. A good set of benchmarking data informs future social media marketing decisions and helps us to rethink others. Social Media Examiner recently released the 2014 Social Media Marketing Report detailing how 3,025 business marketing professionals conduct social media marketing activities. The report reveals what platforms marketers are using, how much time they are spending on them, the perceived return on investment, what marketing jobs they outsource, and which marketing activities complement social media.
How much time should we spend on social media?
I’ve written that the “minimum viable” social media presence for an organization is a .25 FTE. NTEN’s 2012 Nonprofit Social Benchmarking Report confirmed that the majority of nonprofits using social media commit 25% of one employee’s time to social media. So did this report. Of those surveyed for Social Media Examiner’s report:
- 66% spend six or more hours a week using social media
- 39% spend 11 or more hours a week using social media
Which social media platforms are the most important to marketers?
Social Media Examiner asked marketers to select the single most important social media platform for their businesses. Only one choice was allowed.
Not surprisingly, marketers chose one of “the big four” platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging. The interesting aspect of this is the difference between what B2C marketers chose and B2B marketers chose.
For B2B marketers, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging play a much more dominant role than for B2C marketers. Two interesting observations:
- The stronger role of Twitter for B2B marketers than B2C. It might be because B2B marketers are narrowly focusing on targets and referrals using Twitter, similarly to how they would use LinkedIn, and finding that effective.
- Don’t let the relatively small priority of using YouTube fool you: in the next graph, you’ll see that 57% of marketers use YouTube — but it’s only a top marketing platform for 2-3% of marketers. With all the noise on YouTube, this isn’t surprising to me.
What does social media do for an organization?
Social Media Examiner asked marketers how strongly they realize specific benefits from social media marketing. Those who spend at least 6 hours a week using social media reported these benefits:
- 92% report gaining increased business exposure
- Over 50% reported gaining new partnerships
- Over 66% credit social media with lead generation
- 61% saw a rise in search engine rankings
- 84% found increased web traffic
Where are marketers planning to increase their efforts and time? Social Media Examiner asked marketers to indicate how they will change their social media use in the near future.
- Keep on Keeping On. Marketers plan to increase their already heavy investment in the “big four”channels (plus blogging). They indicated they will increase use in blogging (68%), YouTube (67%), Twitter (67%), LinkedIn (64%), and Facebook (64%).
- 68% of marketers responded that they would increase their blogging efforts, making it the top choice. This may or may not surprise you, but when you think about the SEO and web traffic benefits to blogging, it is an obvious choice for marketers. I am surprised, however, that short-form video or graphic-based channels were not at the very top.
- Podcasting use will jump three-fold among marketers surveyed. Overall, a small percentage of marketers podcast, but this group indicated a drastic increase in use, jumping from 6% to 21%. B2B marketers are more likely to increase activities than B2C marketers. For creating signal through the noise, podcasting can be a great tool.
- Short-form video (Vine, Instagram). 35% of marketers plan to increase their use. It’s a relatively new mode of visual communication, and I predict the jump will be even higher two years from now.
This is a benchmarking report, and for that purpose, there are a some great benchmarks for nonprofit marketers who are either working in-house or consulting to mission-driven organizations. Reading the entire report (I only highlighted a portion in this blog post ), I offer this analysis:
- Invest time in social media. At least 6 hours, more like a minimum of 10 hours a week to see pretty good return on investment.
- Benchmark against the benefits marketers are already realizing. Are you generating leads, forming partnerships, increasing web traffic and views, improving SEO, deepening loyalty? If you’re not, start today, because this report shows there are tangible benefits and you can benchmark how effective your social media marketing is against this group of business marketers.
- Social media activities are going in-house. Not that many marketers outsource activities, but this report offers a list of what activities companies are paying for…and what they are not.
- If you’re advertising on Facebook, you’re not alone. 90% of those who pay to play are doing so on Facebook.
- B2B vs. B2C social media marketing approaches. There are some real differences in how B2B marketers and B2C marketers use social media– primarily the channels used and benefits realized from using social media.
- Experience changes the approach. Experienced social media marketers (5+ years) are focused more on time-heavy original content creation (blogging, YouTube, podcasting) than less experienced marketers. What does that tell us? A few things: these folks may be more efficient at creating this content, they understand how to utilize video and podcasting platforms well, and they see a return on using these platforms. A note to consider.
For more trends and information, read the full report online here.