Social media: tweet deal for businesses?

A survey suggests increasing numbers of businesses are now using social media as part of their marketing strategies. But its ROI is still proving elusive.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 15 Feb 2012
We hear all sorts about the value of social meedja, but is it just a fad? A new report by the Chartered Institute of Marketing doesn’t reckon so: it says more than seven in 10 marketing departments now use Twitter to engage with their customers, while 56% use Facebook, 53% use LinkedIn and 41% use YouTube. Which, presumably, means it’s here to stay.

The survey spoke to 1,500 businesses around the world and found that 80% of consumer-led businesses (with marketing departments big enough to be part of the CIM) are now using Twitter, while three-quarters use Facebook. Obviously, business-to-business brands were less inclined to start poking clients: although 67% used Twitter, just under half were Facebook users. Although they’re far more enthusiastic about LinkedIn – 64% of b2b firms said they use it, compared with 40% of consumer-based businesses.

What’s interesting is how social media duties are doled out among employees: while almost a third have an official social media ‘champion’, 23% distribute the responsibility among their marketing team and for 28%, it depends what the campaign is. 5% outsource tweeting duties, while 4% employ a dedicated social media manager – who spend their entire days deciding who to poke next. It’s alright for some…

In tough times, though, it’s all about the bottom line – and while marketers are positive about the impact of social media on business’ reputations, they seem less optimistic about its ability to generate cold, hard cash. While 45% of businesses think it’s great for adding value to business’ profiles, just 23% reckon it’s useful for finding new customers, while 24% weren’t convinced it helps generate new enquiries at all.

Which makes a good point: while a decent social media campaign can help to foster relationships among existing clients, it hasn’t rendered traditional media entirely useless. No chance of cutting that marketing budget quite yet, then. Damn.

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