Surprising Data In Social Media Examiner’s Latest Report

The Social Media Examiner has just released its “2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report“, and a mighty good white paper it is too! It has a whole load of insightful statistics on how marketeers used Social Media in 2011, and makes some interesting comparison with their use of social media the previous year.

I have just finished reading the report and couldn’t help but notice some unexpected changes from 2010 to 2011. For instance, only 52% of respondents believed that improved search rankings was one of the benefits of social media marketing, which is quite a drop compared to 62% in the previous year. It appears that ‘improved search engine rankings were most prevalent among those who’ve been using social media for a year or longer, with nearly 59% or more reporting a rise, a significant drop from 2011 (73%). Of those with 3 or more years experience, 75% report benefits”. Clearly, to get the most benefit in terms of search ranking, you have to view social media marketing as a long term commitment. If you take into account the fact that 66% of the respondents to the survey were from businesses with 0-25 employees, then it is not unreasonable to speculate that these smaller outfits may not have as much time and as many resources to dedicate to social media as larger enterprises and might therefore not be able to see it through in the same way. It would have been really nice to see these stats broken down between SMEs and large enterprises to get a clearer picture of what is happening.

It will also be interesting to see how this evolves over the coming year, especially as Google recently ‘announced’ its intention to penalise over-optimised websites. In addition to which, Google’s social search (which was recently introduced in the US but is still to be launched in the UK) is predicted to have a major impact on website rankings and will no doubt force marketeers to put a lot of effort building their social following on Google+. In the long run, this may very well enable SMEs to gain more search engine ranking benefits from their social media marketing.

There were also some welcome statistics related to the benefits of social media marketing on lead generation. According to the report, respondents saw a 7% increase in lead generation benefits. Whether or not business leaders understand the value of social media marketing for brand exposure, the recurring question thrown at marketeers is always “it’s all very well getting brand exposure, but how many leads did it generate?”. What marketeers need to do is get a lot smarter and more disciplined about setting targets that the whole business buys into and then measuring results. The problem is that measuring lead generation from social media is still very much a burgeoning science, and something that marketing professionals struggle with. According to the report 40% of respondents admit that they find it challenging to connect social media marketing efforts to measurable results. This to me is the biggest hurdle they have to overcome, and unless they do so, they run the risk of losing the senior level support they need to continue their efforts.

If you interested in reading more about how others are measuring their social media marketing, why not take a look at the article published by eMarketer entitled “Marketers Seek to Better Measure Social Media Success“?

I will also take this opportunity to thank Social Media Examiner for another excellent report – for those of you who want to get a copy of the report, you can download it here.


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