Social Media Marketing is Like Planting a Tree

VengresoStrategy & Leadership Social Media Marketing is Like Planting a Tree

Social Media Marketing is Like Planting a Tree

State of Social Media Marketing 2012

The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner provides valuable insights into the how’s and why’s of social media marketing. This year’s report includes findings from more than 3,800 businesses across four continents. Here are my three major takeaways.

Before I share my takeaways, I am compelled to offer some context for these takeaways. As the owner of a digital marketing agency, I witness clients desiring to “get found” through online channels in order to “convert” online encounters into various measurable and meaningful outcomes which range from expanded brand awareness, lead generation to online sales. These days getting found entails multiple touch points. One of those touch points is social media. But, it’s not the only touch point…

Social Media Channels Continue to Grow

The Social Media Examiner report illustrates how marketers are using and considering using several social marketing channels including Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Google+, Video and photo sharing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. I often refer to the aggregate of these social channels as “the rising tide affect.” This phenomenon occurs when people encounter your brand in more than one social channel and “touch” your brand in a desirable action. The actual social channel responsible for the desired action is usually not measurable. As a marketer, it’s often inaccurate to attribute the “last touch” to the referring source of your desired outcome. Consider that most buyers/consumers may experience your brand across multiple digital assets including one or more social media channels and your website. Just because the last touch point may have been Facebook doesn’t mean that Facebook is necessarily responsible for the desired outcome. The person may have clicked to your Facebook page through a Tweet, a website page, an email, a verbal recommendation or from some other referring source.

As brands continue to invest in social media marketing they are experimenting with multiple social channels because of the rising tide affect. For example, at the time of this writing two hot social media channels are Instagram and Pinterest. Marketers that are serious about using social media to drive effective results are testing at least the 4, 5 or 6 social channels mentioned here and illustrated in the chart below from the Social Media Examiner report.

 Image source: 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner

Social Media Marketing Takes a Lot of Time

If there is one thing we live and breath everyday in the course of delivering our digital marketing services is the reality that creating content, engaging audience and building community across these myriad social media channels takes time. In fact, the Social Media Examiner report points out that:

“A significant 59% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more and 33% for 11 or more hours weekly. It’s interesting to note that nearly 15% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.”

Why does social media marketing take so much time? There are several reasons. The biggest reason is that creating and/or curating compelling content and engaging with people across various social channels is time consuming. Consider the analogy of building meaningful relationships in life that result in trust. Such relationship and trust building is time consuming. The online nature of human encounters with a brand coupled with the real-time nature of social media exacerbates the time consuming aspect. And, consider that most people use social media to be social, not to be marketed to. So, it takes time to build trust in this context.

Social Media Maturity Matters

Another finding in the 2012 Social Media Examiner report is that businesses using social media three or more years experienced greater results.

“58% of marketers who have been using social media for more than 3 years report it has helped them improve sales.”

This is an intuitive finding. Or, at least I think it’s intuitive. Any new approach to any aspect of business takes time to evolve into successful outcomes. Then, why do so many businesses jump into social media marketing campaigns expecting quick results? Maybe it’s because of well publicized social media marketing success stories of brands like Dell, Zappos and Old Spice. But, there are tens of thousands of small and mid-size businesses who don’t have household brand identity. I liken social media marketing to planting a tree. It calls for a plan, patience and persistence over a sustained period of time. And, let’s not overlook the importance of high quality content. Despite the temptation to use social media channels as pure advertising channels, it’s proven that the best results come from a combination of:

  • Owned media: website, videos, e-books, white papers, blogs, etc.
  • Earned media: media mentions, people liking and sharing your content online, etc.
  • Paid media: PPC, banners, promoted stories, promoted tweets, etc.

Marketing Benefits Always Start With Awareness

Above are my three takeaways from the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. But, I can’t overlook another key result worth mentioning. The most common benefits of social media marketing reported were:

“A significant 85% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Increasing traffic was the second major benefit, with 69% reporting positive.” 

 Image source: 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner

No matter your specific social media marketing goals, I encourage you to download and read the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner to gain valuable insights. And, if you’re a mid-size business in the first two years of this journey, visit our social media case studies and consider engaging us to help you reach your social media marketing objectives.

Bernie Borges

Bernie Borges is CMO of Vengreso, the leader in digital sales transformation. He's also Host of the award winning Modern Marketing Engine podcast. His book Marketing 2.0, was an early playbook in social media strategy. Bernie is also a trainer and speaker. He has a passion for guiding clients in aligning marketing and sales for accelerated revenue results. Bernie enjoys kayaking with his family in Tampa Bay, going to hockey games and you'll find him at the gym at 6am Monday through Friday, rain or shine.

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