Getting sick of hearing about social media this and social media that? If the results of the 2010 Social Media in Marketing Survey are any indication, you’ll be hearing more about it this year—and for years to come. Corporate Event Magazine recently featured the survey, in which 8,000 exhibit and event marketers were queried by Exhibitor Media Group on their use of social media in their marketing efforts. The results were a bit predictable in some areas, but they also offered some surprises.
The overall conclusion was that social media will continue to gain influence and play an integral role in marketing campaigns. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, time to do so; it can have a lasting, positive influence on your organization. According to the survey, social media can help build brand awareness, enrich professional relationships, generate additional media coverage, boost event attendance, and increase sales. For companies concerned with generating a strong return on investment in their marketing efforts, that last bit is critical. After all the goal of marketing is to increase sales, right?
It was a bit surprising to learn just how many people are using social media in marketing. Of those surveyed, 66% use it, and almost half (49%) spend 1-5 hours on social media every week. That figure sounds about right. Those (18%) who spend less than an hour on it are probably not feeding and watering their social media efforts enough, while about a third of respondents who are spending more than 6 hours a week might be investing a little too much time. Unfortunately, the survey did not compare time spent on social media with quantifiable results of those efforts. However, if they are seeing the results, then their time is well-spent.
Of those who are not using social media in marketing, 22% said they lack the time and 20% said they lack the know-how. These arguments are not surprising, but they are also disingenuous. As stated above, one need not devote vast amounts of time on social media to integrate it into your marketing efforts.
The excuse of not knowing how to properly use social media is almost as bad as that old chestnut “the dog ate my homework”. There are numerous resources for learning how to use social media: online webinars, books, workshops, and even private tutorials. Find a way to learn how to use social media and then embrace it with open arms, because it is not going anywhere. Those who continue to ignore social media do so at their own peril, because it will be the marketing tool within a couple of years, tops.
Another unexpected finding of the survey is that marketers continue to use the biggest social media sites. Gravitating to the biggest and best known sites makes perfect sense, of course. Go where the people are! Most of those surveyed are using Facebook (between January and July 2009, the number of Facebook users grew by 70.8%!), LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and internal and external microsites and business blogs. These sites are being used for general marketing (57%), exhibit marketing (31%), and event marketing (24%).
One aspect of social media in marketing that this survey did not cover is the importance of using social media as a two-way form of communication to build your brand. The unique and powerful thing about social media in marketing is that it allows companies and organizations to actively and regularly engage with their clients and constituents. You can start a conversation, respond to a question or comment, and get instant feedback on a new product or service.
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