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As B2B marketers shift resources and marketing budgets to social media, many have begun to align their social-media efforts with search-engine marketing, using the social channel to drive search referrals and conversion rates among Web visitors, according to a study by BtoB Online and

Nearly six out of 10 B2B marketers (56%) say they are increasing the resources they allocate to social media in 2010 and 30% are increasing their social media marketing budgets—including social- media advertising and technology. Some 15% are adding social-media staff.

Among their top 5 goals for social media, B2B marketers cite the following:

  • Building brand awareness: 81%
  • Increasing website traffic: 77%
  • Generating leads: 67%
  • Providing deeper engagement: 66%
  • Improving search results: 57%

But some marketers are using social media more effectively to drive search: 44% of B2B marketers report increases in Web traffic since launching their social media efforts. Such "best" marketers, as defined in the study, actively engage in a set of key marketing activities that help drive search-performance results, including the following:

  • Setting distinct social-media goals.
  • Measuring social media marketing efforts.
  • Understanding the value of social media on SEO and paid search.
  • Using a greater variety of social-media channels.

Below, other findings from The Impact of Social Media on Search, based on a survey of 464 B2B marketers.

Best Marketers Use More Social Media Channels

Best marketers use an expanded set of social channels. Not only to they rely on LinkedIn and Facebook, for example, but best marketers are roughly twice as likely as the rest of marketers to use YouTube (91% vs. 47%) and social bookmarking (32% vs. 15%).

The best use Twitter just 55% of the time, and are more likely to rely on traditional social-media channels such as company blogs (58%) or webinars (62%).

Best Marketers Measure Return on Objective

Best marketers are the least concerned about driving revenue with social media (27%). Instead, they're focused on brand awareness (89%), increasing Web traffic (85%), and generating leads (76%).

Best marketers value such goals on average 20% more than the rest of marketers. However, they value gaining marketing intelligence 33% more than the rest of marketers (42% vs. 28%), improving search results 28% more (67% vs. 48%), and establishing thought leadership 26% more (54% vs. 40%).

Benefits of Social Media on Search Performance

Best B2B marketers say they are generating tangible results from social media on search-engine marketing, including:

  • Increased search referrals: 40%
  • Higher click-through rates in paid search: 25%
  • Increased conversion rates among all Web visitors: 25%

Best marketers are using social media more effectively to improve SEO results:

  • 66% of the best marketers say they are driving inbound links via social-media channels (vs. 32% of the rest).
  • 64% of the best are expanding profiles and social media accounts to increase rankings on major search engines (vs. 32%).
  • 62% of the best are monitoring social media conversations to influence organic SEO (vs. 22%).

The best also use social media to enhance paid search 62% more often than the rest (38% vs. 16%).

Looking for real, hard data that can help you match social media tools and tactics to your marketing goals? The State of Social Media Marketing, a 240-page original research report from MarketingProfs, gives you the inside scoop on how 5,140 marketing pros are using social media to create winning campaigns, measure ROI, and reach audiences in new and exciting ways.

Best Marketers Measure Social Media and Search More

Best marketers are also more likely to measure their social media efforts: 60% say they are measuring the effect of social media on organic search engine rankings, compared with 19% of the rest of marketers.

Though 40% of best marketers are not measuring organic search-engine rankings, they are vastly outperforming the rest of marketers in their measurement efforts overall.

About the data: Findings are from The Impact of Social Media on Search, based on a survey of 464 B2B marketers, July 1-16, 2010. The study was jointly sponsored by BtoB Online and 

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