9 Must-Know Things About Social Media

Ever wonder how your fellow marketers are using Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to generate brand awareness? Competitive analysis only goes so far, and leaves us wondering at the tools and tactics that make up our peers’ social media strategy. Well, you’re in luck, because the Social Media Examiner just released their annual report, the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, and we’ve analyzed key takeaways from their survey of over 3,000 marketers that made the biggest impression.

1. Social Media Is Still Growing

86% of the professionals surveyed for the social media marketing report said that Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other platforms are important to their business - a 3% increase over 2012. While the industry may not be experiencing the same explosive growth as it did back in 2010 and ‘11, consider this: social media adoption has become nearly ubiquitous, and there’s no indication that social business is a bubble that’s about to explode.

Social Media Is Still Growing

Takeaway:

Invest fully in integrating your social media marketing with your overall marketing. HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report found integration is lagging, particularly at enterprise organizations. It may not be novel to simply be on social media any longer, but you can gain an edge by combining your online and offline presence into a comprehensive strategy.

2. Social Media Is Really Effective

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Image source: Social Media Examiner

When asked about the primary benefits of using social media, the top two responses were increased exposure (89%), and more website traffic (75%). These components weren’t all - marketers also report improved lead generation, SEO, and better business partnerships.

Takeaway:

If you’re simply using social as a platform for lead nurturing or brand exposure, it’s likely time to expand your strategy. Few marketing methods offer as much all-in-one benefit of social media, from co-branding opportunities, to competitive analysis.

3. It’s not Social OR Content Any Longer.

Even a year ago, social media and content marketing were often viewed as separate pillars. Times are changing, and marketers are realizing that it’s difficult to separate the two. While 58% of the professionals surveyed for the social media marketing report are currently blogging, 66% will be creating more content in the year to come.

Takeaway:

It’s possible to drive traffic to your company website and educate your prospects without a blog, but it’s challenging. The time is right to truly invest in custom content to promote on your social channels. Blogging isn’t among fleeting social media trends, either - creating a content culture will offer dividends in brand awareness and leads for years to come.

4. YouTube Is Social.

Social Media - Youtube

Image source: Social Media Examiner

Is YouTube a search engine or social media network? It’s actually both, and it’s amazing hybrid of discovery and connection may be the reason it’s among the world’s most popular websites. Among all the tactics displayed in the social media marketing trends report, video was the most-popular, with 69% planning to invest in YouTube this year.

Takeaway:

Consumers really love video, as evidenced by YouTube’s 1 billion unique visitors monthly. Your video strategy doesn’t need to be as impressive as Old Spice’s from day one, but you should stake the claim on your corner of the video empire.

5. Podcasting.

Video may be the most prominent among social media marketing trends, but podcasting is the most surprising. Following the Social Media Marketing World convention in April, buzz among industry experts quickly turned to podcasting. While only 5% of marketers are currently using the tactic, an additional 24% will be implementing it.

Takeaway:

Stepping into podcasting is a serious commitment, but it’s also a viable way to connect with the 3.2 billion consumers worldwide who currently own a mobile device. If you have the time and budget to add another component to your inbound marketing strategy, podcasting is likely the way to go.

6. Twitter Takes a Back Seat.

Social Media - The Most Important Platforms

Image source: Social Media Examiner

If you could only use one social media platform for business, which would it be? Perhaps one of the most shocking twists in the social media marketing report was the fact that Twitter might be fading into the third place. 49% of marketers reported they’d stick with Facebook if they had to choose, and 16% picked LinkedIn.

Takeaway:

Don’t run and cancel your Twitter account, but the 1950 marketing professionals who’d pick LinkedIn and Facebook could be on to something. The only surefire way to gauge the efficacy of your social media marketing is with closed loop analytics, the process of determining the platforms that are actually resulting in customer acquisition.

7. Engagement Matters.

It won ‘t be a surprising social media trend to anyone, but 88% of marketers confessed they’re focused on trying to increase their engagement. As social media adoption becomes the norm, marketers have shifted their focus from simply being social to trying to capture their prospects’ interest better than the competition.

Takeaway:

The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report author, Michael Stelzner, sums it up best: “as more and more businesses become social, those who best engage will stand out.” Engagement isn’t a buzzword or among fleeting social media trends, it’s about building relationships which will always matter in business.

8. Are We Social Enough?

62% of marketers are investing at least 6 hours weekly in social media, and 36% spend 11 hours or more. Considering the recent discovery that it takes around 32 hours a month to manage a single social media platform correctly, we admit that we’re left wondering whether the average marketer have bit off more than they can manage.

Takeaway:

Few marketers would argue that it’s better to poorly manage a lot of social media platforms than dominate a few, especially since the average consumer expects customer service resolution quickly. If you’re trying to manage LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube in 6 hours a week, it’s probably in your best interest to outsource, take a few steps back, or hire an intern.

9. How Social Fits into an Inbound Strategy.

Social Media - Marketing Forms

Image source: Social Media Examiner

While many of the marketers surveyed focus primarily on social media, it was clear that many view Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ as just one component of a comprehensive social media strategy. 87% utilize email marketing, 61% invest in SEO, and an additional 59% participate in event marketing.

Takeaway:

Email still has the highest ROI of any form of marketing. Social media trends may come and go, but it remains a viable platform for converting leads into customers. If you’re not supplementing your social with relevant email messages, it’s likely time to start.

While the social media marketing trends report offered hundreds of fascinating insights on the state of the industry, one factor was abundantly clear: social media is here to stay, and it’s constantly changing. While Podcasting and YouTube may be the face of social strategy 2013, it’s anyone’s guess which social media trends will surface in 2014.

Did you read the latest 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report? Which social media trends surprised you most?