Social media thought leader and Principal at Altimeter Group, Brian Solis, released The State of Social Media Marketing 2011-2012 last week. This research was produced by Pivot Conference and The Hudson Group, which surveyed 181 brand managers and agency professionals to gain insight into how their organizations are leveraging social tools and explore any trends to follow in 2012.
Solis shares that “Social marketing stands at a profound crossroads. Some organizations are finally embracing the importance of social networks and, as a result, increasing investments in creative engagement, marketing, and service programs. Others see the future value, but lag behind in execution. At the vanguard, Social Businesses drive a virtuous cycle of discovery: Their successes in social marketing lead to new data, which lead to insights, which lead to new and more effective programs as well as the business systems and processes necessary to improve internal and external collaboration.”
Early Social Business adopters like IBM, Dell and Intel, brands are realizing consumers have varied interests requiring varied social marketing strategies to reach them.
The Rise of the Social Consumer
Solis shares his definition of a Social Consumer as, someone who first goes to their social networks of relevance to learn about products and services. Though somewhat influenced by their overall social graphs, Social Consumers emphasize the input of those who define their interest graph – like-minded individuals on any given subject who share common interests and experiences with them. In this way, Social Consumers evaluate the shared experiences of those they trust, and expect businesses to respond to their socialized questions. As a consequence, Social Consumers don’t follow a linear approach through the classic ‘interest to intent’ funnel during their decision making process. Rather, they follow an elliptical pattern where their next steps are inspired by the insights of others, and their experiences are, in turn, fed back into the cycle to inform the decisions of others. via Brian Solis
Social Consumer benefits
More than 70% of those surveyed said they know their social consumers well and expanding benefits to the social savvy consumer through access to customer service, new product launches, exclusive content and more.
Male consumers gaining momentum
It seems men are increasing engagement on social channels, as a previous studied have suggested that women rule the web, survey respondents said their social consumers were nearly equal.
Google+ vs. Facebook
We’re not surprised that Facebook still has the lead on social channels where brand communities but those surveyed said more than 40% of their consumers are operating in Google+. Considering Google+ didn’t even exist eight months ago, that’s a dramatic number of consumers that are ‘hanging out’ on Google+.
49% of businesses uncertain if social will be mainstream
More than 50% of those surveyed shared social marketing would or already is at the core of their business model, with over 49% sharing that they’re unsure if social marketing would be much more than a continued experiment for them.
As mainstream interests grow, so do budgets. Sort of.
Brands are putting a little money behind their social initiatives, which is surprising since social marketing efforts are much easier to track than some traditional marketing efforts, say like a billboard? Between 5-10% of budgets are dedicated to social initiaives, doesn’t seem like much.
No surprise here, sales at top of key goals for social
Brands #1 goal for using social, sales. They also want social consumers to talk about them. Brands need hard ROI, this is the only way they’ll be able to dedicate more money toward social efforts in the future and really progress their organization into a more social business model.
Solis shares this important takeaway, “To successfully reach the Social Consumer and ensure that social media extends across the organization, look at this list as a series of steps rather than a hierarchical rank. Thinking through each item will force a more thoughtful approach to reaching Social Consumers and guiding positive experiences and outcomes. Budgets and support are the net benefits of following these action items.”
To view and download the entire State of Social Marketing 2011-2012 Report visit here.
[Image Credit: Pivot Conference]