It is no longer a question of if companies are using social media, but how. Social Media Explorer released their sixth annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report this month, and it is available for free download until May 30th.  The data in the report was gathered from the feedback of over 2,800 marketers. What were the results?

What Issues Are Marketers STILL Facing?

Many marketers are still struggling to answer basic questions around engagement, measurement and their follower habits. To this day, marketers are still trying to determine:

–       Which social tactics are most effective

–       How to engage their audience with social media

–       Measurement of the return on social media marketing

–       What tools to use for social media management

–       Where to find their target audience on social media

The Importance of Social Media Marketing

According to the report, 97 percent of marketers are utilizing social media as a means of marketing their business. An overwhelming 92 percent say that social media is an important part of their business (up from 86 percent in 2013).

However, only about 37 percent of marketers feel that they can effectively measure the ROI of their social media marketing. While this is an improvement of 11 percent from 2013, there is still a major gap in measurement.  This could be largely due to the fact that about 68 percent of marketers are regularly analyzing their social media activities while the other 32 percent are not.

Where is the Focus?

Marketers today have many options for marketing their message via social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus the list goes on and on. Not only do businesses have many options at their fingertips, but the means in which users consume information is constantly evolving as well.

–       Effectiveness: 43% of marketers believe that their Facebook marketing is effective.

–       Mobile Optimization: 43% of marketers have optimized their blog for mobile users.

–       Integration: 83% of marketers have integrated their social media and traditional marketing activities.

–       Time: 64% of marketers are utilizing social media for 6+ hours per week.

–       Experience: Those that have less than 12 months of experience are spending a maximum of 5 hours per week on social media while those with 2+ years of experience are spending at least 6 hours per week.

–       Age: 68% of marketers spending 40+ hours per week doing social media are under the age of 40.

Show Me the Increased Exposure!

Based on the study, the top benefits that businesses are seeing from social media marketing include:

–       Increased Exposure: 92%

–       Increased Traffic: 80%

–       Loyal Fans: 72%

–       Marketplace Insight: 71%

–       Lead Generation: 66%

–       Improved Search Rankings: 61%

–       Partnerships: 58%

–       Reduced Marketing Expenses: 51%

–       Improved Sales: 50%

Which Platforms Do Marketers Prefer?

When a business begins dipping their toe in the social media water they start small. Those with less than a year of experience are likely to focus mostly on Facebook marketing, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn. Marketers with more experience begin adding more platforms each year. The most commonly used platforms by social media marketers include:

–       Facebook: 94%

–       Twitter: 83%

–       LinkedIn: 71%

–       YouTube: 57%

–       Blogging: 55%

–       Google+: 54%

–       Pinterest: 47%

–       Instagram: 28%

Where Does Content Come into Play?

Marketers were asked how they will change the way that they use different content types in the near future. Below are the results.

–       81% plan on increasing use of original written content

–       73% want to increase their use of original videos

–       70% will be utilizing more visual images

–       46% plan to rely more heavily on curated content

–       33% see audio content as an area they’d like to improve

What Does the Data Mean to You?

Do you believe that your social media marketing strategy is in line with the trends described in this report? What was the most important tidbit that you gleamed from the study?