Does Your Social Media Strategy Measure Up?
If you’re still grappling with your small business social media marketing strategy, then it’s time to pick up the pace—most of your competitors have already evolved beyond the experimental phase and are now actively leveraging Facebook and Twitter in a host of different ways. Sixty-four percent of companies say they’ve transitioned out of social media experimentation, up from 54 percent a year ago, according to a new survey conducted by digital publishing and training firm Econsultancy and global marketing and technology agency LBi—moreover, their efforts are no longer limited to marketing and content distribution but are now expanding into customer service, consumer feedback, and market intelligence.
Fifty-two percent of businesses now employ Facebook as a channel to react to customer issues and inquiries, up from 29 percent a year ago, and 51 percent rely on the platform to collect feedback, compared to 37 percent in the fall of 2010—at the same time, half of all companies use Twitter as a customer service tool, increasing from 37 percent last year.
It doesn’t end with Facebook and Twitter, for that matter—69 percent of companies who’ve embraced social media marketing are using Google’s YouTube video platform, and another 57 percent are active on business networking service LinkedIn. For that matter, 14 percent of companies are active on the fledgling Google+ social network, which only launched in late June—another 15 are leveraging location-based mobile social network foursquare, and 3 percent are on question-and-answer network Quora.
Econsultancy and LBi report that more companies than ever are integrating their social media ambitions into more traditional marketing efforts—80 percent are combining social media with email marketing, up from 76 percent a year ago, and 32 percent incorporate social into their print media marketing, compared to 21 percent last year.
And then there’s mobile: Not only are 16 percent of companies aligning their social media efforts with their mobile marketing initiatives, but also 54 percent of respondents anticipate that increasing consumer reliance on smartphones and tablets will exert the greatest influence on their business’ social media activities in the year ahead. Seventy-three percent of businesses cite smartphones as the “most persuasive” device for social media interactions, far ahead of tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. (Makes sense: As of September 2011, smartphone ownership in the U.S. exceeds 87.4 million, up 12 percent in just three months’ time, according to research firm comScore.)
For small businesses behind the social media curve, it may seem like there’s no hope of catching up. But take heart: While 37 percent of companies say they use Twitter well, up 10 percentage points year-over-year, confidence isn’t nearly so strong when it comes to other activities like listening and monitoring, engaging customers in dialogue, developing and expanding a content strategy, and working with bloggers and influencers. In addition, 60 percent of organizations have not yet implemented internal social media training and policies, and 37 percent report that they continue to struggle with how to accurately measure the value of social media outreach on their businesses. In other words, even if you’re late to the social media party, you’re not too late—at least not yet. But #getmoving.
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