Social media has reshaped our daily lives – how we socialize, shop, stay informed, work, research, and spend our leisure time. The number of worldwide social media users is expected to reach 2.95 billion by 2020, which is approximately around a third of the Earth’s entire population. As of 2016, 78% of the United States population had a social networking profile.
Businesses are now fully on board with using social channels in their marketing strategies. Nine out of 10 U.S. companies are active on social networks, with the same percentage reporting increased brand exposure. More than half of businesses report an increase in sales due to their social media outreach.
Companies Are Increasing Their Social Media Budgets
According to the Advertiser Perceptions’ first Social Media Advertising Report, recently published by Media Post, 24% of major advertisers’ digital ad budgets now go toward social media. 47% of advertisers intend on increasing that figure over the next six months. While 38% are using social media in an attempt to generate sales with many marketers instead using it to boost brand recognition.
In another report by Strongview and Selligent, the estimates were even higher for channels in which marketers plan to increase spend. 56.3% of respondents reported that they would be increasing their social marketing spend, putting social media as one of the top three channels in which marketers are increasing their focus.
Facebook is Still the Most Popular Social Media Channel
B2B and B2C companies alike primarily use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, with LinkedIn being more popular for B2B companies ( Clutch 2016). However, certain social channels are better suited for different audiences so when choosing where to devote your time, be sure to understand your target audience and the channels they use most often.
Google+ and Pinterest continue to be popular channels as well, although usage among markets is declining. Google+ declined from 56% in 2015 to 49% this year, and Pinterest dropped from 45% to 40%.
(Image Source: Social Media Examiner)
Snapchat “Most Important” Social Network According to Teens
Teens are constantly shifting their social channel preference so if your brand targets this audience, pay attention to the latest trends. In a recent report by FORTUNE, 28% of teens stated “Snapchat” as their most important social network, barely overtaking Instagram at 27%.
In another survey by Edison Research and Triton Digital, more 12-24-year-olds reported using Snapchat (72%) than Facebook (68%) or Instagram (67%).
Videos Rule as the Top Performing Social Content Type
Marketers feel that visual assets are increasing in importance in terms of performance on social channels. Video has risen to the top as the most effective type of social content according to numerous industry statistics. In research by Clutch, 23% of respondents stated video was their top-performing social content type, followed closely by images at 22%.
An astounding 46% of social media teams are creating video at least once a month ( Social Fresh). Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are placing a higher focus on video content, and with the increased popularity in Snapchat, these are all ideal platforms in addition to YouTube for social video marketing.
Creating Content is the Most Time-Intensive Task for Social Media Teams
Not a big surprise but social media teams stated that creating social content takes up to 18.5% of their day ( Social Fresh). With the increased importance of having a variety of content available on digital channels, social marketers are increasing their focus on content production. Additionally, of those social media teams who plan to hire new roles over the next year, 70% plan to hire in content marketing or content development roles.
Consumer Generated Content Fuels Higher Engagement for Social Media Marketers
Consumers today love to share their experiences, interact with brands, and are in fact are our best advocates and marketers. Consumers want an experience that is personal and relevant-and content created by fellow shoppers can be a huge factor when deciding which brand they will choose to purchase from. Known as User or Consumer Generated Content (CGC), comScore found that brand engagement rose by 28% when consumers are exposed to both professional content and user-generated product videos.
In another study by Expertcity, consumers ranked influencers among the top sources of information for when making purchase decisions, with friends and family leading at 81% and online reviews at 76%. And according to research by Bazaarvoice, consumer-generated content helps brands and retailers improve their sales conversions and create long-term customer loyalty. The study indicated that 50% of retailers and 91% of brands plan to increase their usage of CGC over the next 12 months.
Retailers that are already using consumer-generated content or influencer marketing are seeing significant results in increased brand awareness, new sales lead generation, and increased customer loyalty.
The Biggest Challenge for Social Marketers is Measuring ROI
In the 2016 “State of Social Marketing” report from Simply Measured, 61% of marketers stated that the biggest challenge was measuring ROI. Only 9% said that they could qualify revenue driven by social media. This has been an ongoing challenge for marketers. To measure success, most of those surveyed (56%) use engagement metrics such as conversions, likes, shares, and so forth.
The Top Benefits of Social Media Marketing are Increased Website Traffic and Enhanced Brand Image
According to the research by Clutch, the top three benefits of social media marketing are increased website traffic, enhanced brand image, and improved audience targeting capabilities.
Research by Social Media Examiner also showed similar results. 89% of marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses and 75% reported increased website traffic.
Social media has fundamentally changed the way companies are able to interact with their customers and prospects. It is a direct line to their target audiences, and a way to engage in relevant two-way conversations. With consumers expecting more personalized communications from brands and 1:1 relationships, companies are riding the social media wave to deliver meaningful experiences to their social followers.
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