It takes time for brands to incorporate social media effectively: 28.1% of companies with two or more years of social media marketing experience say social tools have been fully integrated into their companies' business models, but that level increases to 44.4% among those with three or more years of experience in social marketing, according to a social media benchmark report by SmartBrief.

It's taking relatively less time, however, for companies to coordinate multiple social channels: 25.1% of companies with 7 to 12 months of social media marketing experience say they are using multiple social channels in a coordinated effort. Over one-third (34.7%) of those with 13 to 18 months of experience say the same.

Below, other findings from the State of Social Media for Business by SmartBrief and Summus Limited.

Social Media Veterans

Roughly 5.4% of surveyed companies have been using social media for three or more years. Such "veterans" are more likely than social media "rookies,"—companies that have been using social media for less than six months—to report achieving key success metrics, including:

  • Having a solid strategy: 65.7% of veterans have a fully developed or well-developed social-media strategy, compared with 13% of rookies.
  • Measuring return: 36.1% of veterans measure the ROI of their social media efforts, compared with 9.6% of rookies.

Moreover, social tools are valued more by veterans: 27.9% of social media veterans say they would not be able to operate without a strong presence in social media, compared with 3.6% of rookies.

Veteran social media users also report key differences in their use of social media:

  • Investing more resources: 21.8% of veterans say they devote at least two full-time staffers to social media, compared with 5% of rookies.
  • Having leadership support: 32% of veterans say social media is being championed by their leadership, compared with 17.7% of rookies.
  • Diversifying their tools: Veterans are more likely to use social networks outside of the big four (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube).
  • Using social channels for more than marketing: 62.1% of rookies say they use social media only for marketing, compared with 55.9% of veterans. Veterans are more likely to say they're using social media in public relations, information technologies, human resources, sales, and product development.

Social Media Is Still New

Despite some early innovators, most companies are in the nascent stages of social media marketing:

  • 66.5% say they have adopted social media in the previous 18 months.
  • 50.1% report using social media for about one year.
  • 18.9% have adopted social media in the previous 13 to 18 months.

Meanwhile, companies are focusing their energies on primarily five social channels: Facebook (49.1%), Twitter (40.0%), blogs (34.8%), LinkedIn (27.6%), and YouTube (23.6).

Top 5 Goals for Social Marketing

Brand-building (94.1%) is the primary goal for social media among surveyed companies, followed by community building (76.1%) and increasing website traffic (55.1%).

Nearly one-half of companies (49.0%) say lead generation is among their top 5 goals for social media.

Communications Companies Leading Social Marketing

Communications and PR agencies have recognized the potential behind social media earlier than most industries: 20.5% of companies have been using social media for two to three years, compared with 7.5% of companies overall. 

Likewise, ad and marketing firms have realized the potential of identifying and reaching target audiences relatively early: 7.2% of such companies have been using social media for three or more years, compared with 5.4% of all companies.

Despite their early presence in social media, communications and PR firms are not the chosen source of advice or consultation on social media for companies, SmartBrief found. Instead, most companies are using internal resources for developing and implementing their social media strategies.

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.

Top Social Media Obstacles

One-third of companies (30.1%) say their companies have not adopted social media. Among such companies, confidentiality (33.1%) is cited as a key obstacle, as is management resistance (14%). One in five companies (20.6%) say social media is prohibited at work, and 19.8% cite the lack of knowledgeable staff.

Regarding ROI, only 14.7% of companies that use social media are measuring return on social investments, with 33.2% saying they do not measure social media, and 30.8% saying they do somewhat.

Companies Lack Confidence in Their Social Strategy

Among the 61.9% of surveyed companies using social media for marketing, most lack confidence in their social media strategies: Overall, 14.2% say their strategies are very effective and 7.3% say their strategies are very revenue generating.

Not surprisingly, social media veterans are more confident: 24.1% say their strategies are very revenue generating, compared with 4.7% of rookies.

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of more than 6,000 SmartBrief newsletter readers in June 2010, conducted by SmartBrief and Summus Limited.

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