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June 1 , 2010

Social media booming as marketing tool

Survey reveals utilization and projected growth

Social media marketing programs are not only here to stay, but the vast majority of businesses using them anticipate increasing those efforts according to a joint survey conducted by Web 2.0 leaders MoreVisibility, PitchEngine and HARO (Help A Reporter Out). The survey reveals nearly 85 percent of firms that responded have a social media marketing program in place while 75 percent said they will expand their efforts.

Not quite 40 percent of those respondents who reported they didn’t have a social media campaign in place indicated they “didn’t understand the concept” while almost 26 percent said they had no budget for social media. Twenty five percent of the respondents said it had no relevance to their business. Ironically, nearly 80 percent that said they didn’t have a social media marketing program are considering implementing one in the near future.

Facebook and Twitter remain the 800 lb gorillas of the sites employed. Almost 96 percent of those with programs said they are utilizing Facebook, while almost 98 percent said that Twitter is their program of choice. LinkedIn comes in a close third at 74.05 percent while the once popular MySpace lags well behind at just under 11 percent. Other sites collectively garnered almost 42 percent.

Budgets remain relatively small. Nearly 73 percent that responded said they spend less than $5,000 per year on social media marketing, 7.5 percent between $10,000 and $25,000 and 7.5 percent are spending more than $50,000. Just over five percent said they are spending more than $100,000 per year.

“This data underscores that with virtually no barriers to entry. social media is a highly cost-effective marketing model for any size firm,” said MoreVisibility President Andrew Wetzler. “You don’t have to spend a great deal of money, but you have to be very efficient and understand how to utilize these invaluable tools to generate revenue.”

Smaller firms, less than 25 employees, dominated the survey with 65 percent of the respondents in that category. Just over 15 percent were firms with 26 to100 employees, 10.5 percent were in the 101 to 999 employee range while nearly eight percent had more than one thousand employees.

“It's nice to see that social media is finally being taken seriously as a communications vehicle," said Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of HARO. "Hopefully, as more and more companies realize the value of just a small investment in social media, budgets will increase as well.,"

While the majority of the firms are relatively pleased with the success of their programs, there appears to be room for improvement. On a scale of one to five, with five being outstanding, nearly 40 percent of those that responded rated their success at four while almost 39 percent rated it at three. Only 8.23 percent rated their program a five while 10.75 said two and 2.5 percent. indicted they were dissatisfied with their efforts.

“It's so good to begin seeing some hard numbers behind the convergence of social media and business. There's a reason we're all so passionate about where things are headed and this provides some validation," said Jason Kintzler, founder and CEO of PitchEngine.

Service industries were the leading category that responded to the survey with just under 40 percent of the respondents. Not-for-profits, with ten percent was the second largest of the potential industry categories while “other” represented 33 percent of those that participated. Manufacturing, consumer, hospitality and retail made up the balance.

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