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Social to become a bigger part of market research, advertising

OCTOBER 19, 2011 – Many companies involved in advertising or promotions have found that social media websites offer a valuable means of communicating with consumers and conducting market research on their demands and preferences. Results from a recent study by Buddy Media and Booz & Company suggest that more organizations will be seeking out the insight they can garner from these networks, as some are planning to increase their spending on social media.

According to the survey, the majority of companies – 94 percent – would rank Facebook among their “top three social media platform priorities,” while 42 percent include YouTube in that group and 77 percent place Twitter as one of the leading three.

Christopher Vollmer, a partner and leader of Booz & Company’s media and entertainment practice, stated that leading companies were acknowledging the growing importance of social media, and many were now focusing on developing their capabilities rather than creating individual campaigns. As a result, he said, “they are actively transforming their model for marketing from one of ‘brand management’ to ‘brand curation.'”

“This new model is more dynamic and real-time, but also more iterative as well as content- and people-intensive,” he continued. To adapt, marketers will have to start improving in several areas, including “content development to connect with target consumers … community management to manage, grow and activate audiences, and in data-driven insights to analyze consumer behavior and measure impact.”

Social media is proving to be most beneficial to public relations, advertising and customer service, the research indicated, with 96 percent of respondents saying they include the websites in their advertising and promotions, while three-quarters used them for customer service and 88 percent turned to social media for help with PR. Many respondents also said they would be utilizing the technology for building the brand, interacting with the public, generating buzz and gaining feedback and insight from their customers.

Additionally, the majority of surveyed marketers said they would be increasing social media’s share of their budgets. For 89 percent of respondents, only 10 percent of their budgets are earmarked for social networking today, but 28 percent said they expect it to have a 20 percent share by 2014. Of those who were surveyed, 79 percent reported they will be pulling funds from their digital budgets to create a bigger bankroll for social media, rather than taking away money from other channels, such as TV and radio.

If CMOs want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in marketing, they will need to focus more heavily on developing their technological skills. A study from IBM revealed that 82 percent of responding marketing chiefs expect their social media use to rise in the coming years, but just over one-quarter said they are tracking items such as customer reviews and blogs.