Some successful techniques nonetheless show decreases in marketer usage

The 2011 update of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research’s longitudinal study on social media marketing usage among the Inc. 500—the 500 fastest-growing private companies—indicates they are continuing to increase their usage of some social media tools, while pulling back from others.

Facebook usage was up in 2011, along with usage of Twitter and foursquare. The study also examined several services and techniques for the first time, some of which already have high usage. Nearly three-quarters of the companies studied were using LinkedIn in 2011, and almost half had adopted YouTube.

Compared to 2009–2010, the usage of blogs, online video in social media, message/bulletin boards, podcasting and Myspace were all down. There was also a 50% decrease from 2010 in Inc. 500 companies who said they used no social media marketing tools.

But some of the tools marketers are abandoning are still reported to be highly effective—at least for those companies that continue to use them. Message and bulletin boards, along with blogging, got the highest success ratings of any tools, among companies that use them for marketing.

While a strong majority of respondents indicated they were having success with Twitter (86%) and Facebook (82%), this was lower than several other, less-popular services.

Social Media Tools with Which Inc. 500 Companies Have Had Success, 2009-2011 (% of respondents)

The research could suggest that marketers are abandoning techniques that work. However, it could also be a sign that marketers who have mastered these techniques are sticking with them, while those that have seen less success in these areas are pulling back from their efforts. Those marketers who continue to blog are likely the ones who have seen the most blogging success, for example, while those who found blogging’s return on investment too low have likely moved on.

In addition, the overwhelming popularity of Facebook among marketers means that those with less social media marketing experience or sophistication are likely using it, perhaps pushing success rates down.

SOURCE eMarketer

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