Marketing Through Social Media

I have the opportunity to take a few marketing classes and while looking at different programs, I realized that digital marketing has become very trendy.  Before enrolling , I decided to get some tidbits on this new trend with the help of a few analysts who published their 2009 social media predictions.

 Growth: Social media will continue pushing beyond the current buzz to more operational functions  like customer services and HR.   Empathy is playing an increasing role in  social media initiatives supported by live employees or reps who respond to tweets or other messages – empowering employees and agencies to have direct contact with customers.  In difficult times, customer satisfaction, product guarantee and purchasing experience have become key. 

New strategies:   As companies realize the benefits of humanizing their relationships with online communities, they are grappling with the how.    Marketers need to figure out how to integrate social media programs into broader marketing efforts.  Responsiveness, transparency and humanity of social media are of no less value to B2Bmarketing.  Companies are starting to see clients ask for private social networks that they can deploy among business partners. 

New processes:  Social media will result in role changes.  Everyone becomes a marketer as companies debate who should win community efforts with the organization front line workers quietly interacting.  Ad agencies could be desintermediated by media companies.  For example, brand marketers are bypassing their agencies and working directly with media companies to create out of the box marketing programs. 

Revenue opportunities:  Ecommerce widgets and applications now appear in social networks.   Shopping is becoming more social, and after poor recent retail sales, retailers are seeking a way to improve results with deeper discounts and are now inserting people and social connections into the  buying process. 

Social Media Marketing Survey Findings

A research study surveying 900 marketers attending the upcoming Social Media Success Summit 2009 shows that marketers are heavily invested in social media, to the tune of 88 percent using at least one social outlet.

What is a little surprising is that when asked to rate their experience level using social media marketing for their businesses, 72% of marketers say they have either just started or have been using social media for only a few months.

According to the survey, respondents report that the #1 benefit of social media marketing is gaining attention for the business.  The majority of marketers say they have undertaken social media activities for this reason and they appear to be paying off:  Some 81% of all marketers indicate that their social media efforts have generated exposure for their businesses.  Improving traffic and growing lists was the second major benefit, followed by building new partnerships.

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(Graphic from "How Marketers are Using Social Media to Grow their Businesses" )

The study also found more than half of participants reported that a major benefit of social media marketing is the resultant rise in search engine rankings that often comes with increased efforts.  Improved search engine rankings were most prevalent among those who've been using social media for years, with nearly 80% reporting a rise.

According to the study, the top social sites in use by marketers are Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, and Facebook, in that order.  This suggests that long-standing rumors are true, that Twitter is flooded with marketers marketing to other marketers.  While there are plenty of "normal" users out there, this is something to keep in mind when developing a Twitter strategy.

When marketers were asked which social media tools they most want to learn more about, social bookmarking sites slightly edged out Twitter as the #1 response. A four-way tie for third place occurred between LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Facebook and Digg/Reddit/Mixx.

For more information, check out the study, "How Marketers are Using Social Media to Grow their Businesses"