Because Social Media marketing is relatively new to most businesses, I find that lots of small-medium sized business owners are a bit timid about jumping into it. Many are worried Social Media is a fad, and investing precious time and money is just not worth it.
I am always searching for articles that give good examples of Case Studies and other companies using Social Media – and found a great article in Inc. 500 about a recent study from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and how mainstream Social Media marketing is really becoming.
To our clients who have already embraced Social Media as a way to build their brand online- congratulations for being a head of the game and I will work as hard as I can to keep you there! To those who hesitate and need further proof that Social Media is becoming more standard in our industry, read this article:
For the third consecutive year, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has conducted a study on social media usage among Inc. 500 companies. The 2009 results confirm the upward trend of social media adoption rates among some of the fastest growing private companies, and provide a useful comparison of social media trends from 2007 on.
This year’s study, which was conducted by researchers Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson, included 148 of the 2009 Inc. 500 companies. As with the past two years, respondents were asked about their usage and familiarity with six types of social media tools, including blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, message boards, and wikis. In the past year, social media usage by the Inc. 500 has grown, with 91 percent of companies reporting that they use at least one social media tool, compared to 77 percent in the 2008 survey. And, of the six social media categories, the one that continues to be the most familiar to Inc. 500 companies is social networking, with 75 percent saying that they are “very familiar with it.”
To account for the rise in popularity of newer types of social media, this year’s study also asked respondents about their interaction with sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace. Not surprisingly, the study found that many of the companies have already embraced these sites for running their business, with Twitter being the most widely used of them at 52 percent of the total respondents. While Twitter and other social networking sites have seen significant growth in comparison to previous years, other social media tools such as message boards and podcasting declined in the level of usage. But despite lower usage of some tools in 2009, many companies that have not yet incorporated social media in their business operations say they intend to do so in the future. For example, 44 percent of companies without a company blog say they plan to start one, and 36 percent intend to use some form of online video.
Eric Mattson, CEO of research firm Financial Insite and one of the head researchers in the study, believes that the high reception to social media among Inc. 500 companies is significant for several reasons. “Inc. 500 companies are focused on doing anything they can to grow faster and social media is an innovative tool that may give them an edge over their competition,” say Mattson. Additionally, he says their status as private companies plays a role. “There is less implication for private companies using social media – they don’t have to worry about the stock market going up or down based on someone’s Tweet,” says Mattson. “And often in smaller organizations, there is more room for innovation because it requires less processes to adopt.”
In looking at the data from a longitudinal standpoint, it’s clear that it’s not just the level of social media usage that’s significant, but the way in which businesses are using it. As in years past, respondents were asked if they were monitoring their company name or brands in the social media space, and 68 percent said yes, compared to 50 percent just two years ago. Lastly, companies were asked for the first time if they are using social media to communicate with vendors and suppliers, and 34 percent reported using social networks as a way to communicate, while 26 percent cited Twitter as an important vehicle for communication. “From a big picture trend standpoint, these results show how prevalent and widespread social media is becoming in every aspect of business now,” says Mattson.