A majority of marketing and advertising execs think Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ will be the top social media investments for the coming months, according to a survey from The Creative Group, a staffing firm for marketing, PR, and advertising professionals.
The study surveyed approximately 400 executives by asking the following question:
"Do you anticipate companies will increase or decrease their advertising/marketing investment in the following social media sites in the next 12 months?"
Sixty-two percent said Facebook would see an increase in investment, while 51 percent said LinkedIn would, and exactly half stated Google+ would be an area of social media to increase marketing and advertising efforts. Respondents also were asked about future investments around Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
As you interpret the data, keep in mind the question is not specific to whether the respondent’s company is going to increase investment, rather, what the respondent as a marketing and ad executive believed is on the horizon for businesses and their social media efforts in general.
Here’s a section of an infographic from The Creative Group highlighting the data mentioned previously. The full infographic can be found at the end of this post.
So how do companies decide where to focus their marketing efforts with all the social media networks to choose from?
Where to be Social: Know Your Users
First things first: Understand the big picture of social media, who uses it and how that relates to your brand. Hunt down stats wherever you can.
Then, refine your research to find where your brand’s users are. Just because you keep hearing about the top handful of social media networks doesn’t mean that’s where your audience is and what’s driving traffic to your site.
Check your analytics. For example, Google Analytics can show you what social networks are your top referrers, and that’s a great place to start. You may be surprised to find a niche social site you had no idea about is one of your biggest drivers of referring traffic.
Once you’ve uncovered that information, make sure you spend some time focusing your efforts on building relationships there, and making the sharing of content seamless on your site for that audience.
There is one exception to the choosing social media rule: Even if your audience isn’t on Google+, you’ll want to consider having a presence there.
Being a part of Google’s social network has bigger implications to search and being visible online. Many people argue Google is nearly forcing its social network upon users because the cost of not having a presence there is so great.
It allows you to claim “authorship,” which is a trust signal to Google for those who publish content on the Web, and allows businesses and authors an additional way to be found in search results.
Anyone who has signed up for a Google account has a Google+ profile by default. But to unleash the possibilities, users should spend time understanding its potential.
When to be Social: Know the Purpose
Every social media network has its place within the whole scheme of your marketing plan, so each will have an individual purpose to your goal.
For example, you might find that Twitter is a great place to tell your audience about new content you’ve published, while Facebook might be better for creating deeper relationships and performing traditional business tasks like customer service, but in a more meaningful way.
Understanding what works for your social media networks and your business comes from an understanding of what your audience is looking for. Take this recent study, which showed 78 percent of a brand’s Facebook fans are already customers.
The study highlighted other common reasons people say they become fans of brands on Facebook:
Does that data surprise you?
The point is, lots of companies have money to invest in social media in the next 12 months, and often do so blindly. Knowing when, how and why your audience engages with your social media networks is key in how you market and engage.
Once you’ve engaged, measure. Looking at the big picture of how those social media networks act within your overall marketing plan, and how they contribute to your goals. This helps you make more informed decisions about where to make that next social media investment.