We found the following article, reposted from Socialnomics.com, to be extremely helpful, interesting, and worth passing along. Enjoy!

We are excited to share our annual report on the State of Social Media Marketing – Top Areas For Social Marketing Investment and Biggest Social Marketing Challenges in 2012. The team at Awareness connected with 320 marketers from a cross-section of industries, company sizes and levels of social marketing experience.  Our annual State of Social Media Marketing report comes with insights from those leading the efforts at the C-level and those who manage the social marketing function within their organizations, as well as a number of business leaders who are helping to bridge the social gap within their enterprises.

The findings and insights contained in this report are revealing on a number of levels.

2012: The Year of Growing Social Marketing Maturity

Social marketing is entering a stage of maturity and with it, savvy, socially-oriented businesses are starting to embrace social as part of their companies’ DNA.  This transition comes with an understanding that siloed approaches to social marketing are not effective, and a realization that scale with social marketing comes with the adoption of new organizational structures, processes and technology infrastructure that can help the enterprise scale and optimize in a continuous fashion. Expect that in 2012 focus will shift to active social media management for increased lead generation and sales.

C-level Involvement with Social Marketing

We were excited with the response levels from C-level executives (39% of respondents) and the information they shared.  Top-of-mind for executives and senior managers is ROI, integration of social with lead generation and sales, and expansion of social presence and reach. It is clear that the C-level wants more proof before they allocate additional organizational resources to social marketing.  This is why only 8% of our respondents reported 2011 budgets of over $50,000 per year, with 12% of the organizations reporting teams of 5+ social marketers.  At the same time, executives need to realize that to give their social marketing initiatives a chance, they need to invest accordingly in the effort.  Our prediction is that to resolve the cost-benefit conundrum in 2012, executives will start to adopt new processes and technologies that will not only help them scale the effort, but get the data that clearly links to ROI.

The Right Social Marketing Infrastructure

Social marketing maturity will increasingly be defined next year as the practice of adopting new processes and technologies that will help the enterprise scale their initiatives.  2012 will see savvy social businesses moving beyond the “let’s allocate a few people resources to social” mentality to incorporating robust social media management platforms. These platform will provide the ability to monitor and analyze social conversations, while creating effective response and content mechanisms to increase customer engagement and ultimately sales. Our industry is reaching this maturity tipping point – 78% of marketers reported monitoring social media channels for mentions of their brand at least a few times a week, while 62% reported monitoring industry conversations with the same frequency. Although 19% of surveyed marketers reported using a social media management platform, these are the leaders who will be reaping the most benefit from their efforts.

Expanded Use of New Social Marketing Platforms

Experienced social marketers report that they plan increased usage of social marketing platforms beyond the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to include: Blogs (91%) YouTube (86%), foursquare (59%), SlideShare (43%), Flickr (50%), and Tumblr (30%). Driven by increasingly fragmented user consumption habits, companies clearly see the need to expanded social presence that will allow them to follow and engage their prospects and customers on multiple channels and networks.  This proliferation of channels and the corresponding need to successfully engage in all of them will make the job of social marketers increasingly more complex. This, in turn, will necessitate the adoption of robust tools to manage presence, monitor and report on activity, and tie efforts to the organizational bottom line.

The State of Social Media Marketing report contains additional insights on top social marketing investment areas, top challenges for 2012, top social media platforms used today, the role of LinkedIn in reaching the C-suite, along with a fun section on the top news and analysis resources marketers use to stay on top of the latest and greatest in our industry. For full, free access to the State of Social Media Marketing report, click here. If you would like to be included in the survey for next year’s report, click here. You can also access the 2012 Social Marketing and New Media Predictions, to hear from marketing strategists David Meerman Scott, Brian Solis, Erik Qualman, Paul Gillin, CC Chapman, and Steve Rubel what 2012 has in store for us.

We welcome your thoughts, reactions and feedback.  Let us know how the insights and findings presented in the State of Social Media Marketing report will help shape your thinking in 2012.  Don’t hesitate to ask us the tough questions – as we embark on 2012, we promise to continue to provide deeper dives into best practices, successes, and notable trends to help you, social marketers, do more and do better.

 

By Brain Zanghi,

CEO of Awareness.com