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Social Marketing Benchmarks: Budgets, Goals, and More

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Organizations are still cautious about dedicating resources to social media marketing: Only 27% of those surveyed employ someone who focuses exclusively on social media, according to a study by Ragan Communications and NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions.

Most (65%) organizations (including for-profit corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies) have added social marketing to the list of tasks traditionally assigned to marketing communications professionals.

In addition, one-quarter (25%) of organizations employ an intern to help with social marketing.

Below, additional findings from the report titled "Structuring a Social Media Team," by Ragan Communications and NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions.

Most organizations are still learning about social media: Only 13% of marketing professionals say their team's social media efforts are an "advanced, well-run machine."

Some 65% of marketing professionals say they use social media regularly but have more to learn and accomplish, and 23% describe themselves as "newbies."

Hiring Social Marketers

When hiring social marketing talent, a plurality of marketing professionals (45%) says they rely on a combination of educational background (degree) and experience; 25% weigh experience above all; and 18% view writing skills as a priority.

In addition, a background in communications (77%) and public relations (76%) is most desirable, followed by one in marketing (65%), journalism (42%), and advertising (28%).


In 2012, only 28% of organizations recorded increases in their social media budgets (excluding salaries and benefits), and 69% stayed flat.

Prospects for 2013 are slightly better: 62% of organizations expect their budgets to remain flat, 36% expected budgets to rise, and 2% expect declines.

Even so, social budgets are still small: 23% of organizations have budgets (excluding salaries and benefits) of less than $1,000, and roughly 27% have budgets exceeding $50,000, with just 14% exceeding $100,000.


Asked about their social media goals, 87% of marketing professionals cite increasing brand awareness, 62% cite boosting Web traffic, and 61% cite improving the organization's reputation.

Some 45% of marketing professionals cite generating leads as a top goal for their social efforts, 40% cite sales, and 38% cite customer service.

In addition, many of the organizations surveyed are using social media to promote thought leadership, according to the report. Others say their goals are to listen and learn, and a teaching hospital uses social media to recruit faculty, staff, and medical residents.

Among nonprofits, engaging current donors, expanding a donor base, and building a community of donors all were goals mentioned.

Measuring Social Media

Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of marketing professionals say they are "dissatisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with how they measure their social media efforts, compared with 31% who are "satisfied" or "very satisfied."

Across various metrics, 86% of marketing professionals measure interactions and engagement, such as followers, fans, and "likes." Some 74% track Web traffic, while 58% measure brand reputation.

Fully 4 in 10 marketing professionals (40%) say they track new leads gained via various social channels, and 31% measure sales.

Most (86%) organizations monitor their own brands (i.e., what's being said about their organization), while 77% monitor industry news, trends, and events. Only 57% monitor their competitors.

Top Channels, Frequency of Posts

Among the organizations surveyed, Facebook is by far the most popular platform: 91% maintain a Page on Facebook. Twitter is the No. 2 platform (88%), followed by YouTube (73%), LinkedIn (69%), Google+ (33%), and Pinterest (32%). At the bottom of the list are Instagram (17%) and Tumblr (9%).

Most (58%) organizations post social media content at least daily, though one-half of those don't post on weekends. Roughly 22% post two or three times a week, with the remainder posting less frequently.


Across various types of social media content, Facebook posts (86%) and Tweets (85%) are most popular, followed by images (65%) and videos (64%).

More than 6 in 10 (61%) of marketing professional say their companies publish blog posts, while 51% draft online articles.

Is the C-Suite On-Board?

Most business leaders support social media efforts: 81% of marketing professionals (working in both large and small organizations) say their executives are "very" or "somewhat" supportive of social media; only 19% say execs in their organization are unsupportive or indifferent.

About the data: Findings are based on an online survey of 2,714 of communicators, marketers, public relations pros and other business professionals, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2012. Respondents were from for-profit corporations (58%), nonprofits (24%), and government agencies (7%). Organizations of more than 1,000 employees constituted 28% of the total; most were under 1,000, and 23% worked for organizations employing fewer than 25 employees.

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.

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  • by Nick Stamoulis Tue Jan 8, 2013 via web

    I'm surprised more companies don't plan on using social media to improve their customer service. Your customers are expecting a response when they reach out for help via social media. Your reps need to reply!

  • by Bruce Tue Jan 8, 2013 via mobile

    I'm thinking there is probably a logical explanation for why all these stats exceed 100%... I just can't think of what it would be.. =/

  • by Ted Simon Tue Jan 8, 2013 via web

    Thanks for sharing this info, Lenna.

    I think @Nick makes a good point. It's also interesting to note that there is no mention of goals for "customer insights," "understanding your market" or something along those lines. Perhaps that is implicit in items such as "improve brand reputation" or "generate leads"...but it seems to be an area overlooked by many companies in their social marketing efforts.

  • by @jesskry Thu Jan 10, 2013 via web

    FYI This is social media marketing, not social marketing. I was excited to read a post on the latter based on the title. :(

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