A gap exists between attitudes toward social media and investment in social media, a study by the Software & Information Industry Association found. The report, "Marketing in Today's Economy, the first SIIA publication to gather business-to-business sales and marketing tactics from industry executives, focused on their companies' use of email, mobile marketing and social media to build their brands, gain leads and improve customer support.
About 90 percent of marketing executives surveyed use social media marketing, and three quarters believe it has a positive impact on their business. At the same time, slightly more than half (54.5 percent) of respondents said their company's marketing team spends less than 10 hours per week investing in social media. And further, 35 percent said they spend only one to five hours per week on social media marketing.
"Social media has clearly become a widely used tool among B2B marketers and few doubt that it is helping their business," said Rhianna Collier, vice president of SIIA's software division. "But our survey also shows that marketers may not be dedicating the resources necessary to get the results they want from social media marketing. It is remarkable to see that, despite their strong belief in the power of social media, over one-third of marketers are engaged in it for only five hours or fewer every week."
The SIIA survey suggests that marketers do recognize the need to dedicate more resources to their social media efforts going forward. About 65 percent of respondents cited social media as an area in which they would like to invest more, and over 70 percent indicated they expect to increase their use of both Twitter and Linkedin in the year ahead. The study indicated marketers are beginning to apply the same return on investment (ROI) metrics to social media that they do for other marketing efforts, both offline and online. For example, 59 percent of businesses are using social media use Web traffic as an indicator of social media ROI, while 53 percent are using qualified leads as a key ROI metric.
"Social media is still a relatively new method for growing a business, but marketers clearly believe it is has value and will require greater investment. And with more marketers now applying traditional ROI metricssuch as qualified leadsto their social media efforts, they are more likely to get a clear sense of what level of investment makes sense, Collier said. The maturation process of social media is clearly under way, and we can expect to see significant advancements in the coming years."
The survey looked at a range of issues, and found a number of other results that are illuminating for marketers. For example, 75 percent of respondents do not outsource any social media efforts, and nearly 60 percent of respondents said that less than 5 percent of their deals began through social network interactions. Privacy is the top ethical concern in today's marketing world, according to survey results, and most marketers predict that the biggest trend in 2012 will be greater communication and quantification of value to customers.
The SIIA joined with Lopez Research to conduct a survey of more than 100 marketing executives in North America. The survey was based on interviews with 106 marketing executives, of which 88 percent were business-to-business marketers. In addition to the survey, "Marketing in Today's Economy" features commentary from 16 marketing experts whose companies provide technology solutions or services across a spectrum of industries. The authors offer expertise on a range of B2B marketing trends and best practicesfrom social media to search-engine optimization and cloud marketing.