Before writing The State of Social Media Marketing—an in-depth, thorough study of social media use among marketers—we looked around at the existing research to see what other organizations were asking in their surveys. Much of it seemed interesting, but lacking in nuance.

For example, social media usage was measured by asking about budgets rather than time spent using social media: e.g., What is your Twitter budget? I'm guessing it's the same as mine: $0. Another example: many studies surveyed marketers to see what kinds of tactics work, but didn't bother to find out what kinds of organizations these tactics work for, or how tactical effectiveness varies within changing contexts of business vs. consumer targets. The reality is that what works great for one person often doesn't work at all for another.

We did our due diligence and asked the kinds of questions that would lay the groundwork for benchmarking. Because we at MarketingProfs have what we believe to be the largest sample of marketers out there (approximately twice the size of other studies), even though we asked many of the questions found in other research we were able to slice our respondent cells into very specific buckets, making them far more actionable than aggregate-level statistics.

We found out how adoption of various social media websites and tactics varies by industry, by target, and by company size.

Following are a few examples of the kind of depth you probably won't find anywhere else.

First, we look at the participation rates of companies in social media by industry. What we find is that while the overall average is fairly high, adoption is over one-third in just the top few industries. In other words, the majority of the companies in these industries are NOT participating in social media.

That does not mean, however, that the people working within these companies are abstaining. What we found is that there is essentially a gray market of at-work social media use.

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Tim McAtee is director of research at MarketingProfs ( Reach him via