Posted October 4, 2011 5:36 pm by with 4 comments

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If you’re reading this post, then chances are you use social media to market your business, but what else do you use it for?

A new study by Booz & Company and Buddy Media, shows that social media is coming into its own as a customer service tool, a way of conducting market research and even a way to handle internal communications. It all points to the fact that companies of every size are getting serious about social media and that means more money and resources going to support the cause.

The new study, called “Campaigns to Capabilities: Social Media and Marketing 2011, takes a closer look at the role social media plays in a variety of companies. The results are hardly startling, but interesting nevertheless.

The majority of responded said that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were their top social media platforms. Facebook came in at 94%, Twitter at 77% and YouTube at 42% but that number should climb in the coming year. MySpace got only 2% of the vote, with location-based services fairing only slightly better with 8%.

A Measure of Success

In order to track their success, more than 90% said they look at engagement and participation which includes number of followers, sharing, likes, re-tweets, etc.

66% said they track buzz. A great idea that’s hard to pin down. They look at trending topics, blog mentions and mentions by influential people.

Only 38% said they measure transactions such as sales or lead generation and that’s rather disheartening. I’m sure that more than 38% of social media marketers are looking for a rise in their bottom line. The problem is, measuring the correlation between a social media post and a sale.

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This is probably why 90% of respondents said brand building was the biggest benefit to social media. Respondents also said that the ability to adapt and react quickly was essential to success, along with clear support from execs and a “culture that encourages experimentation.”

Content is Still King

Companies stated that they were actively involved in creating customized content for social media. To this end, 96% said they’d be increasing their investments in that area. 57% said they are actively hiring new creative and editorial talent and community managers are in high demand.

That represents a shift away from the tech guys (developers, programmers) and toward the creative side (writers, graphic artists) and as a writer, that makes me very happy.

Hiring full time social media managers means that companies are finally taking social media seriously. It’s no longer that trendy tool that might or might not be working. Now, it’s an important part of a company’s brand strategy and that’s good news for marketers.

  • I think the last year we have saw more and more brands actively growing their brands through fan pages and other social media. It is the only marketing vehicle they can put out a message and test it immediately . I think is a wise choice for them

  • “The problem is, measuring the correlation between a social media post and a sale.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s not easy to draw a direct line between social media usage and your sales numbers because you don’t know exactly what prompted a customer to take action. Was it because they’ve been following you on Twitter, they read good reviews online or they found your site in the search engines? Maybe it was all three?

  • Hi Cynthia,
    I’m glad that more and more studies keep coming out with results showing that businesses are accepting and adopting social media. In the past year I myself have noticed a huge shift in people’s perception of social media and it seems like for now, it’s most definitely here to stay! Very exciting, thanks for sharing!

    • As a freelance writer hanging my own shingle a few years ago, I tried to emphasize the value of (professionally-written) original content — for web sites, blogs, newsletters, etc. People looked at me with blank stares. Then everyone began realizing how important social media was becoming and how your blogs could actually brand you as a business and — presto! — now they are beginning to catch on. True, measurement is not easy with this type of outreach. People often don’t even remember how they found you. But doing these things as a regular part of your marketing efforts covers all bases and drives people to that web site you spent so much time and money on to begin with.