Executives Fail to Focus on Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media marketing has gained its place at the table. eMarketer estimates 80% of companies with at least 100 employees will use social networks for marketing this year, up from nearly three in four last year. By 2012, usage will be even greater, and, in turn, efforts are becoming more sophisticated.

Most companies now recognize a well crafted social media strategy is a vital part of the marketing mix. In fact, a study from Jive Software and Penn, Schoen & Berland found 78% of executives thought a social business strategy was somewhat or very important to the future success of their business.

Despite this realization, most executives are still only in the tentative stages of making social strategy a priority.

The survey of executives who have final say or significant input on social business strategy found that only 27% listed social business as a top strategic priority. Nearly half (47%) admitted a social plan was necessary but not a strategic priority and 19% said social business strategy was simply not necessary.

Meanwhile, executives were also not overly optimistic about their current social strategy efforts. Only 17% felt their social strategy was ahead of the curve. About four in 10 (42%) felt their social strategy was just keeping up and 33% felt they were behind.

A different study from Forbes Insights and Coremetrics showed a similar amount of enthusiasm for social strategy. Only 11% of US and UK executives surveyed at large businesses listed social media strategy as a leading priority in 2011—tied for last place with mobile marketing. Social media strategy will receive a small boost in 2012, though, with 19% of execs listing it as a leading marketing priority for the coming year.

Many companies may be using social media marketing, but those that choose not to focus on a social strategy risk falling behind the curve in integrating social media with their overall marketing goals. Recognizing the importance of strategy alone isn’t enough; companies should start implementing a plan.


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Social Media Marketing Brings New Revenues, Customers

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Social media marketing has been top of mind among marketers and is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Earlier this year, eMarketer estimated that worldwide social network ad revenues alone, not including money that companies spend developing presences on social networks or hiring staff to manage them, would reach $5.97 billion in 2011, a 71.6% increase over 2010.

Already, firms worldwide are seeing returns on their increased investment. According to a survey by office services firm Regus, 47% of businesses successfully used social networks for customer acquisition in 2011, a 7 percentage point increase over 2010. The US followed closely behind the average, at 43%.

China saw the greatest gains in customer acquisition from social networks among all countries studied, increasing from 44% in 2010 to 65% in 2011.

The survey had one other interesting finding: Social networks made the biggest impact for companies that are operating in developed markets. A significantly higher percentage of companies that used social networks for customer acquisition in developed markets, including the US, the UK, Japan and Canada, saw a revenue increase over the previous year vs. those companies that did not use social networks to acquire new business in developed markets.

Companies in developing markets like China, Mexico and South Africa experienced revenue growth whether or not they were using social networks to acquire new business, probably as a result of rapid overall economic expansion.

As companies continue to chase revenue in both developed and developing markets, competition will force marketers to increase investment in new platforms to reach customers. Social networks are proving to be a reliable source of customer acquisition and increased revenues in both, but can provide a necessary edge over competitors in developed markets.

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Mobile vs. Social: The Status of Marketing Integration

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Integration has been a buzzword for social media marketers for a while now. As efforts—and budgets—in social media evolve from experimentation toward more serious campaigns, questions of how well social is fitting into the marketing mix abound, and true integration can seem distant.

According to research from marketing software solutions company Unica, marketing integration is very much a work in progress, and for more than just social media. Adopting cross-channel campaigns is a challenge, and many barriers remain to integrating online and offline data. And for social media and mobile, tactical integration with the rest of the marketing department is often a ways off.

The Q4 2010 survey of marketers in Europe and North America found that social sharing links in emails and web offers were the best-integrated social media marketing tactic, with 62% of respondents saying the sharing links were run as part of integrated campaigns. A majority of respondents were also integrating applications and widgets, social media advertising and location-based games into the rest of their efforts.

For mobile marketing tactics, the picture was similar. Again, email was best-integrated: 64% of respondents said mobile versions of email messages were part of integrated marketing campaigns. Mobile messaging, location-based targeting and mobile websites were also integrated by a majority of marketers.

Mobile applications, which marketers are often warned to avoid if they don’t have a clear connection to the rest of a company’s marketing, were most likely to be discrete from other campaigns.

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How Well Is Social Media Fitting into the Marketing Mix?

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Over the next several years, social media spending will become a bigger percentage of companies’ overall marketing budgets. Yet CMOs report there are still challenges when it comes to integrating social media into their overall business strategies.

The American Marketing Association and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business surveyed more than 400 top marketers for the February 2011 CMO Survey. They reported that over the next 12 months, social media spending will jump to 9.8% of marketing budgets, up from the current level of 5.6%. In the next five years, that percentage will increase to 18.1%.

Service companies are planning the biggest increases, as both B2B and B2C service companies have a higher percentage of their budgets set aside for social media than their product-focused counterparts. They also plan to have bigger percentages looking ahead both 12 months and five years.

This is a remarkable difference from the August 2010 CMO Survey, when service companies were decreasing spending and future projections of spending, while product companies were seeing increases. In this survey, the results are flipped, with service companies seeing increases and product companies seeing decreases.

Social media is no longer brand new, and many product companies have been experimenting in the space for some time. The current challenge for companies is to figure out the balance of marketing that works for them, and that includes a focus on product development and traditional advertising. Service companies are also realizing they must be on the cutting edge to gain clients, which includes being savvy when it comes to social media.

Yet while these CMOs are setting aside more of their budgets for social media, they are still working on integrating this newer form of communication into overall business and marketing strategies.

CMOs are more confident in the integration of social media into marketing strategies, as 10.5% feel social media is very effectively integrated into those efforts. But when it comes to companies’ overall business strategies, 25% of CMO respondents said social media is not effectively integrated at all.

As social media becomes a bigger budget line item, CMOs and their companies must face the challenge of integrating it into overall business and marketing strategies. Not only is it more cost-effective to incorporate social media into marketing and overall strategies, but it also makes marketing more effective overall.

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More than Half of Marketing Budgets to Increase

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 More than Half of Marketing Budgets to IncreaseWhen looking at industry segment, marketers appear most conservative about spending, where agencies appear most op¬timistic. Agencies (14%) are more likely than marketers (10%) to say expected marketing expenditure will greatly increase (25% or more) during the next 12 months. Marketers are more likely than others (32%, compared to 21% of marketing service professionals and 18% of agencies) to say they plan to maintain overall marketing expenditure during the next 12 months.

 More than Half of Marketing Budgets to IncreaseThree-fourths of those surveyed estimate their social/digital marketing expenditure will increase during the next year, with one-fourth overall projecting it will increase greatly (25% or more). Alterian says the estimated growth above and beyond overall marketing expenditure projection is indicative that social/digital marketing will drive general marketing growth in the coming year.

 More than Half of Marketing Budgets to IncreaseMSPs are more likely than others to say they plan to maintain overall social/digital media expenditure during the next 12 months. They are less likely than others to say they plan to slightly increase (5-25%) social/digital media expenditure in the next year. Again, agencies maintain the most optimistic outlook and are more likely than others to say expected social/digital media expenditure will greatly increase (25% or more) in the next 12 months.

 More than Half of Marketing Budgets to IncreaseWhen it comes to audience engagement on company websites, only a small number (11%) tailor each visitor’s experience. With one third using their site as a corporate brochure and more than half (55%) concentrating on offers and campaigns, the large majority do not focus on any kind of individualized company or brand experience based on each customer’s needs and/or information. When it comes to websites, this indicates a mass marketing strategy is still the norm, as opposed to personalization.

 More than Half of Marketing Budgets to IncreaseModerately ahead of the pack, agencies are less likely than others to say a client website’s main focus is to serve as a corporate brochure. Alterian analysis indicates that perhaps due to the nature of their business, agencies tend to be more advanced along the engagement maturity model. As consumers begin to expect more from their brand experiences and interactions, other industry segments will be obliged to catch up.

Results of the recent Aberdeen Group report “”Predictive Analytics – Driving Sales with Customer Insights” indicate that top performing marketing organizations are more likely to have access to different types of customer data. Dividing respondents into best-in-class (top 20% aggregate performance) and all others (including industry average with middle 50% industry performance and laggard with bottom 30% industry performance), the study shows that 77% of best-in-class organizations have access to all customer transactional data, compared to only 58% of other organizations.

In addition, 64% of best-in-class organizations have access to customer behavior data, compared to 53% of other organizations. Similar discrepancies exist in levels of access to internal unstructured data (55% compared to 39%) and external unstructured data (41% compared to 26%).

Aberdeen advises that access to customer data enables sales-enhancing activities such as modeling lifetime customer value, market segmentation, and prioritizing inbound sales leads.

About the Data:This survey of 1,462 global marketing professionals was conducted from October 9, 2010 to December 17, 2010, both online and offline.

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Are Impersonal Messages Hurting Your Online Marketing?

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Marketing trends—especially in digital—are motivating brands to be more interactive and engaged with their customers. Rather than pushing out interruptive messages that targets will ignore or find annoying, many are working to create marketing experiences that appeal to customers as individuals. And they know if they neglect to do so their brand could be at risk.

In an Alterian survey of marketing professionals, nearly three-quarters said they or their clients tried to create personalized customer experiences through email, the top channel for doing so. Direct mail, website and social media fell far behind but nearly even with each other in the 53% to 59% range.

Notably, less than 9% of respondents said they did not use any of the cited channels for a personalized customer experience. While marketers may not use every channel at their disposal to do so, they recognize the importance of personalization.

Asked specifically about email, a plurality of respondents said they segment their audience and send different messages based on the segmentation. The second-most-popular response, however, was blast emails with basic personalization—which is often not enough to appeal to recipients. Only about half as many said they delivered truly personalized email marketing messages based on individual preferences.

Based on their usage of digital channels for personalized and interactive marketing, most respondents felt their brands could be at risk because of a lack of customer engagement. A majority of that group claimed to be taking action based on problems they had already recognized, but some still did not know where to start. Less than a quarter reported they were fully engaged.

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Parents of Young Children Prime for Social Marketing

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Age plays a major role in how likely a person is to be a social media user, but important demographic characteristics go far beyond simply how old a potential user is. Consumers’ life stages influence their presence on social media as well as their concerns as shoppers and buyers, which is what makes them of interest to marketers on social sites to begin with.

Preliminary results from a Media Audit study of social media users highlight the differences in usage and interest among adults in different phases of their lives.

While the youngest respondents without children were most active on Facebook, Twitter or Myspace, the presence of kids made adults overall much more likely to be on social sites. More than 60% of adults with kids of any age living at home used Facebook, Twitter or Myspace, vs. 51.3% of all adults, and the parents of young children were especially avid users. Among respondents with children under 6 years old, 67.1% had used one of the sites in the past month, while 58% of parents of teenagers reported the same.

These young parents also represent a group more likely than average to make many big-ticket, family-oriented purchases, such as cars, video cameras, PCs, large appliances or a new home. And parents looking to make these purchases for their families are more likely than average to be found on Facebook and similar sites, especially parents of kids under age 6.

Having kids brings out many needs and desires for new parents, from an interest in sharing photos and videos of the little ones on sites like Facebook to the issue of buying a new Flip camera to take those videos. For marketers looking to target new families interested in buying such items, social is an especially good place to look.

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2011 Trends: Content Marketing Is Critical

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content thumb 2011 Trends: Content Marketing Is CriticalNext year, marketers will need to rethink their approach to advertising and marketing and intensify their focus on creating magnetic content that will naturally attract consumers, rather than relying solely on the interruption model of advertising, which consumers are responding to less and less. Think pull vs. push.

Magnetic content can include anything created on behalf of a brand—be it an ad, YouTube video, online game, Facebook page, Twitter promo or mobile app—that consumers genuinely want to engage with and pass along to others. This content entertains, amuses, informs, serves a function or satisfies a consumer need. It’s welcome instead of annoying or interruptive.

Marketers, especially those working in social media, have seen the proven value of branded content, sometimes also referred to as “earned media.” Nearly three-quarters of US companies with a social media strategy used such content in their campaigns, making it the most common type of content used, according to a June 2010 study by King Fish Media, HubSpot and Junta42.

Creating effective, breakthrough advertising has always been a challenge for marketers, as well as for the agencies charged with the task. But the classic interruption-disruption model of advertising is moribund. Marketers should ask themselves five questions about the magnetic content they are seeking to create to determine whether it will be truly attractive to their audience:

Is the content unique? Is the content useful? Is the content well executed? Is the content fun? Does the content make good use of the channel in which it appears (e.g., social, mobile, video)?

Marketers should base their magnetic content ideas on well-researched customer behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles. This entails altering your emphasis in marketing from “selling product” to identifying and solving a consumer need or want that transcends or complements the physical product or service you are selling. Ask yourself this critical question: Besides your product, what can you do for the consumer?

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SocNet Marketing Spending to Reach $38B by 2015

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advertising thumb SocNet Marketing Spending to Reach $38B by 2015Combined advertising and promotional spending will hit $38 billion by 2015, roughly 440% more than the $7 billion projected for 2010, according to a new white paper from Borrell Associates.

 SocNet Marketing Spending to Reach $38B by 2015
Breaking the combined social network marketing spending stream into advertising and promotional streams, “The Social Networking Explosion: Ad Revenue Outlook” projects that $5 billion of total $7 billion (about 71%) social network marketing spending in 2010 will consist of promotional expenditures.

From 2010 to 2015, social network promotional spending will grow about 380%. In 2011, it will grow 40% to $7 billion, and then slow down to about 14% growth in 2012, totaling $8 billion, However, social network promotional spending will then double to $16 billion in 2013, and continue rapid growth the next year, increasing 31% to $21 billion before slowing again with 12.5% growth to $24 billion in 2015.

Although Borrell data shows social network advertising spending will remain at lower levels than promotional spending through the next five years, the total growth rate will be an even higher 600%.

In 2011, social network ad spending will grow 200%, from $2 billion to $6 billion, putting it on close to an even keel with promotional spending. Ad spending will remain close to promotional spending in 2012, rising almost 17% to $7 billion.

However, in 2013, ad spending will once again lag behind promotional spending, growing a very healthy 43% to $10 billion. Growth will then continue at a still impressive 20% pace to $12 billion in 2014 and 17% pace to $14 billion in 2015.

Borrell analysis indicates the rapidly growing marketing spend in social networking is fueled by wildly climbing consumer use of social networking services. The paper cites data from comScore which says Facebook alone had more than 100 million unique visitors in the US last December, out of 400 million registered users worldwide.

The average Facebook visitor came to the site 27 times during that month, almost once a day. As of the end of 2009, one hour in every nine spent online was spent on a social network site. More than two-thirds of the nation’s largest businesses recruit new employees through social networks, and 13% more plan to start this year.

Asked to rate various technology tools on a scale of 1 to 7 (7 meaning extremely important and 1 not important at all), the average respondent to a recent Gartner study rated social networking tools at slightly more than 4. Social networking only ranked ahead of four other tools, all of which have a social media aspect: wikis, social tagging/bookmarking, web feeds and blogs.

Email was clearly ranked as most important, with an average score near 7. The only other tool to receive an average score of more than 6 was group calendars/scheduling. The top five tools were rounded out by web conferencing, team workspaces, and simple end-user tools.

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Web founder says Facebook a danger

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FacebookThe man credited with inventing the internet has lashed out at Facebook and other social networking sites saying they are moving the web away from its founding principles.

In an essay in Scientific American magazine, Tim Berners-Lee says social networking sites are tightly controlling the information put on there by users meaning the internet’s being split into fragmented islands.

Berners-Lee said there is a chance Facebook could become so big that it could limit innovation.

Source: www.ninemsn.com.au