Customer Reach, Engagement First Priority For Social Media Marketers

October 1, 2012

Marketers appear to value social media more for customer engagement than for reaching new audiences, suggests a September 2012 report [download page] by Chief Marketer, sponsored by Wildfire. Asked to identify the strategies behind their social media efforts, a large majority (84%) of survey respondents cited a need to reach customers at multiple touchpoints, while many said they were motivated to reach customers where they spend time (62%), and that customers expect them to be on social media (56%). Roughly half of the respondents use social media as an engagement tool for 2-way conversation (53%) and for its viral speed (51%), while 42% use it to solicit customer feedback.

Further down the list, just 41% see social media as a means of cheap, cost-efficient marketing, and 39% as a means to reach new audiences. 25% each use it to supplement paid media, or use it because corporate leadership expects it, according to the “2012 Chief Marketer Social Marketing Survey: Lots of Choices, Lots of Trials.”

Significantly, the chance to take a campaign or message viral has dropped 8% points since last year, suggesting that marketers have come to recognize the challenge and competition for viral attention, and its unreliability as a strategy. These results – coupled with recent research from Awareness showing that better customer engagement is marketers’ top social media business objective – signal a shift in social media use away from just brand awareness to direct consumer engagement.

Facebook Marketing: Events More Popular Than Targeted Posts, Ads

Among Facebook marketers, 64% have used Facebook Events to inform fans about online or offline events, making this a far more widespread tool than display ads and targeted posts based on Facebook demographics, each used by 35% of respondents. Among the other suite of tools used, about one-third allow users to log into Facebook via respondents’ websites (31%), while about 1 in 5 are using Facebook applications and Sponsored Stories. Less than 1 in 10 are selling products via Facebook commerce.

Notably, 20% of retailers surveyed report using Facebook Action Buttons (e.g., “Want” and “Own”) – this compares to 14% of the overall survey sample.

Hashtags Most-Used Twitter Tools

Marketers who use Twitter tools are most likely to turn to hashtags: 30% of all respondents reported using hashtags associated with specific campaigns, while slightly more than one-quarter use non-campaign-based hashtags (e.g., for conversations and content). Also used by 26% are Promoted Tweets, twice the percentage who use contests and offers exclusive to Twitter. 11% use live Twitter sessions, and 8% Promoted Trends.

Marketer attitudes toward Twitter seem to be relatively skeptical, though. Some 21% of all respondents view Twitter as a great way to engage with followers and reach new customers, but twice that percentage (42%) believe the potential for new leads is outweighed by the constant need for new content.

Custom Groups Most Popular LinkedIn Tool

Among all respondents, 33% have used LinkedIn custom groups, but that figure rises to 44% among pure-play business-to-business (B2B) respondents. InMail messaging trails distantly as the next-most popular LinkedIn tool (14%), followed by LinkedIn Events (13%), staff monitoring of LinkedIn answers (12%), LinkedIn display ads (10%) and text ads (also 10%), and a premium company profile page (9%).

As with Twitter, companies display an ambivalence about LinkedIn as a marketing tool. About one-quarter view it as a good way to engage a professional audience with content and value, a figure that rises to 30% among pure-play B2B companies. Yet 14% overall believe the potential for new leads is outweighed by the constant need for fresh content (19% of B2B), and 51% find most members more interested in career networking than business issues (41% of B2B).

Confidence In Social Media Measurement Sinks

While those marketers who said they and their companies were “very effective” at measuring social marketing hovered at about 13% in 2010 and 2011, that percentage dipped to just 4% in 2012. Similarly, while 47% last year felt somewhat good at social measurement, just 38% this year could say the same. Nearly half of respondents (47%) feel they or their companies are either not very good at social marketing measurement, or do not measure well at all.

According to a study by Econsultancy and Adobe, more than 7 in 10 companies agree that measuring the impact of social media marketing is very difficult.

About The Data: The survey was conducted online between August 7 and September 10, 2012, and polled 1,050 active marketing professionals at brands and agencies across numerous of industry verticals (e.g., manufacturing, retail, financial, healthcare, travel, entertainment, publishing, advertising, database and non-profit sectors).

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