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Social Media is Serious Business for Leading Companies [Study]

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Just a few years ago, social media was something the kids were doing; a trend or fad that wasn’t going to last long. As social media networks have come and gone, a few have risen to the top and are now often incorporated into the advertising, PR, and customer service departments in leading companies, according to a new report.

Campaigns to Capabilities: Social Media and Marketing 2011, from Booz & Company and Buddy Media, shows that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are now considered cornerstones of most social media strategies in larger companies. Ninety-four percent of respondents said Facebook is one of their top three social media platform priorities. Twitter was second with 77 percent, and YouTube trailed with 42 percent, though this is sure to rise as online and mobile video continues to grow in popularity and importance.

Leading Companies Use Social Media for a Variety of Reasons

Not surprisingly, social media is most often used for advertising and promotions, PR, and customer service. Companies are also using social now for market research, sales/commerce, product development, internal communications, and more. As it has been integrated into different departments, more CEOs are recognizing its value over the long term; nearly 40 percent reported that social media is a CEO-level agenda item.

Respondents identified a number of “critical success factors” within the company that drive the success of social media campaigns. The ability to react and adapt quickly, having a clear champion/owner, and clearly communicated support from executive management were listed as top elements in social media success.

How Companies Measure Social Media Success

Of the benefits of social media, brand building, interactivity and buzz building were listed as the areas it made the most difference. However, respondents also noted that social media can offer consumer insights, offers a broad reach, and almost half offered sales and lead generation as a benefit.

Over 90 percent of companies measure engagement and participation to help gauge the success of their campaigns. Other popular metrics include reach, advocacy, and buzz. Only 38 percent of companies are able to tie leads and sales to their social media campaigns.

Social Media Continues to Gain Importance for Large Brands

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Looking forward, companies plan to continue incorporating social media into the marketing mix, though they don’t believe it will overtake or replace traditional methods. Ninety percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that social metrics should be tailored to the needs of the campaign. Almost two-thirds said their organization will integrate social media into all advertising and marketing.

Only 65 percent of companies have a social media policy in place; 29 percent plan to build one soon or are already in the process, while 7 percent do not have nor plan on building one.

Over half of companies have the capability to monitor and respond rapidly to activities in the social media landscape, and slightly fewer have KPIs and dashboards in place. Only 15 percent have revenue-generating platforms built from social media in place, though an additional 44 percent are either currently working on one or plan to in the near future.

Most Companies Are Willing to Invest in Social Media Strategy

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96 percent of leading companies plan on increasing their spend in social media. 57 percent plan to hire full-time employees, and only 14 percent are looking to freelancers, contractors, or pert-timers. Clearly, respondents felt social media was best handled in-house. The majority are looking for Community Managers, though creative talent, analysts, and developers are also desired.

EMarketer expects social network ad revenues to hit just over $5.5 billion this year, with $2.74 billion of that coming from the U.S. market. Social media ad revenue is poised to rise substantially, predicted to reach almost $10 billion by 2013.

Where will the budget come from? Companies expect that social media spend will become a significantly larger portion of digital marketing spend, with 79 percent reporting this portion of the budget as that most likely to fund social media activities. Far fewer plan to pull from television, magazine, outdoors, newspaper and radio budgets.


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