Social Media Marketing’s growing importance

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the roles new online channels will play, and indeed much derision from some as to the impact Twitter can have as a marketing channel. The release of a number of reports and survey results help to show the growing importance of these social media channels for marketers going forward.

A survey of 18,000 marketers at Online Marketing Blog found that the top ten digital marketing tactics which marketers are planning to use in 2009 are:

  • Blogging (34%)
  • Twitter (29%)
  • Search engine optimization (28%)
  • Social network participation (Facebook, LinkedIn) (26%)
  • Email marketing (17%)
  • Social media monitoring & outreach (17%)
  • Pay per click (14%)
  • Blogger relations (12%)
  • Video marketing (10%)
  • Social media advertising (7%)

Out of the top ten, six of these can be considered to be social marketing.

At present the top sectors currently engaging in social media include: retail, consumer goods & services, high tech, media & entertainment, automotive, financial services, Government and Travel. This list closely mirrors the top spenders on online advertising at present and it’s no wonder as Hitwise numbers show that social media is now driving 7.1% of traffic to e-tailers up from 5.2% in 2008. Hitwise figures also show that the importance of paid search, though still vital for online retailers has fallen from 27.8% in 2008 to 22.5% in March 2009.

Therefore it comes as no surprise to see that of the Top 500 e-tailers 56.8% have a presence on the social networking site, 41.4% or are on, 28.6%, are on and 20.4% are using, according to Internet Retailer.

These reports help to substantiate the importance of social media marketing and demonstrate that we’re likely to see advertising budgets moving away from traditional online channels in 2009 and towards social media marketing.

The growth of social media marketing is an opportunity for many but for those companies who are not ready for social media marketing and those who aren’t currently planning for it this should serve as a timely wake-up call. Brands need to begin testing to see how they can best use social media to develop ongoing communications with customers and find ways to integrate social media into their current marketing mix.

Companies who aren’t planning to use social media as part of their marketing could find themselves playing an expensive game of catch-up.