Research Brief: Social Media Marketing Maturing

Research Brief from Center for Media Research
April 21, 2011

According to a new study by Social Media Examiner, prepared by Michael A. Stelzner, social media has gone mainstream. And for businesses it represents an unprecedented marketing opportunity that transcends traditional middlemen and connects companies directly with customers. Two years ago, businesses were uncertain about social media. Now it’s here to stay and companies are rapidly responding to new social media opportunities.Major findings from this report contain insight into how marketers are currently using social media and their future plans:

  • 90% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business.
  • One third of all social media marketers want to know how to monitor and measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and integrate their social media activities.
  • 58% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week, and more than a third invest 11 or more hours weekly.
  • 77% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube and video marketing, making it the top area marketers will invest in for 2011.
  • 70% of marketers want to learn more about Facebook and 69% want to learn more about blogging.

The number-one advantage of social media marketing is generating more business exposure, as indicated by 88% of marketers. Increased traffic (72%) and improved search rankings (62%) were also major advantages.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in that order. Facebook has eclipsed Twitter to take the top spot since the 2010 study.

Only 28% of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing.

The overwhelming majority (93%) of respondents indicated they were employing social media for marketing purposes, and a significant 90% of marketers said that social media was important.

Social Media is Important for my Business
Attitude % of Respondents
Strongly agree 62%
Agree 28
Uncertain 8
Disagree 2
Source: Social Media Examiner, April 2011

The self-employed (67%) and small business owners with 2 or more employees (66%) were more likely to strongly agree.

More B2B companies have been using social media longer than a year (52.6% reported 1 year or more) than their B2C counterparts (46.2% indicated 1 year or longer). In 2010, only 31% of marketers were using social media for 1 or more years. Now that number has grown to 50%.

Experience With Social Marketing (% of Respondents)
Experience % of Respondents
Just getting started 17%
Less than 12 months 32
1 to 3 years 39
More than 3 years 11
None, but plan to use 2
Source: Social Media Examiner, April 2011

58% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week and 34% for 11 or more hours weekly. 15% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.

Those with more years of social media experience spend more time each week conducting social media activities. For example, 63% of people with 3 or more years of experience spend more than 10 hours a week doing social media activities. Only 41% of those with 1 to 3 years experience spend that much time.

Time Commitment For Social Media Marketing (% of respondents)
Hours Per Week % of Respondents
None 2.9%
1-5 39.0
6-10 23.9
11-15 11.5
16-20 7.9
21-25 4.3
26-30 2.9
31-35 1.4
36-40 2.6
More than 40 3.7
Source: Social Media Examiner, April 2011

There’s a direct relationship between how long marketers have been using

social media and their weekly time commitment. For people just beginning with social media, 59% spend 1 to 5 hours per week. However, for those who have been doing this for a few months or longer, most spend 6 hours or more per week on social media activities.

A significant 47% of marketers who have more than 3 years experience spend at least 16 hours per week focused on social media activities.

There’s a direct relationship between age and time spent on social media. The younger the marketer, the more time he or she spends on social media. People aged 20 to 29 years spend more time than other age groups using social media marketing (with 41% spending 11+ hours weekly), followed by 30- to 39-year-olds (37% spending 11+ hours per week). This is an increase over the 2010 study.

The number-one benefit of social media marketing is standing out in an increasingly noisy world. 88% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Improving traffic and subscribers was the second major benefit, with 72% reporting positive results.

Nearly two-thirds of marketers indicated a rise in search engine rankings was a benefit of social media marketing.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Benefit % Responding; Multiple OK
Generated exposure for business 88%
Increased traffic/subscribers 72
Improved search rankings 62
Resulted in new business partnerships 56
Generated qualified leads 51
Reduced overall marketing expenses 49
Improved sales 43
Source: Social Media Examiner, April 2011

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, with Facebook leading the pack. In 2010, Twitter was in first place with 88% and Facebook was close behind with 87%. Since 2010, Twitter lost 4%, LinkedIn lost 7% and Facebook gained 5%. In the 2009 study, only 77% of businesses were using Facebook.

The self-employed (80%) and owners of small businesses (78%) were more likely to use LinkedIn. Larger businesses were more likely to use YouTube or other video and less likely to use blogs (68%+).

At least 73% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube/video, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. A significant 86% said they have no plans to utilize MySpace or will reduce their efforts.

Read more about these findings and future plans for social media and marketing activities by visiting SocialMedia Examiner here.