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8 Surprises From Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Marketing Industry Report

Reading through Social Media Examiner‘s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry  Report offered me more surprises than anticipated – and a lot of deeper insight into what I thought I already knew and what major social media marketers are thinking and forecasting right now. But here are the top mind-blowers that the report left me with.

Facebook and LinkedIn are the two most important social networks for marketers.

When asked to pick only one social media platform, 54% of the marketers surveyed selected Facebook. Second place went to LinkedIn at only 17%. Why was this surprising to me?

Because Facebook has made some pretty major algorithm changes in the past year that have sent organic reach down the tubes and forced brands to rethink their strategies and effectiveness on the network. I thought perhaps brands were seeing a general deficit in their returns from marketing on Facebook, and that other social networks were encroaching upon Facebook’s powerful social media reign (ahem, Twitter). But clearly I was wrong, since Facebook’s closest competitor in the minds and hearts of those surveyed came in at only 17% compared to Facebook’s 54%.

Original written content > original visual assets.

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Another big surprise was that 58% of the marketers surveyed think original written content is the single most important form of content, with original visual assets trailing at 19%. Why so surprising?

Because, if you work in the social media marketing community, you know that there is a perpetual call to make posts visually appealing and coercive. Because photos are often the main attention-grabbers on brand posts. Because people are busy, there is a lot of content out there for them to pore over, and a simple slide show or infographic can be a lot less intimidating than an in-depth, well-researched written post.

However, we’re seeing a tide-turning towards “meaningful content” in the content marketing community, and I bet that has something to do with these survey results. Users are overwhelmed by all the content out there, and smart brands are building blogs and reputations that say, “Stay here. We’ll provide you with value that you can’t get anywhere else.” A well-built, engaging blog is a powerful tool as brands seek not only to drive traffic towards their sites, but keep folks around and those bounce rates down.

More deeply investing in blogging is the  #1 way marketers plan on changing their future activities.

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It’s the first time since 2010 that blogging has held this top spot. This surprised me because blogging beat out YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram…the list goes on. Now, blogging just barely beat out YouTube and Twitter (its closest competitors), but the distance between blogging and the rest of the networks is pretty substantial. I did not expect such a substantial win for blogging, although maybe I should have, BECAUSE BLOGS ARE AWESOME.

Only 1 out of 3 marketers agree they are able to measure their social media activities.

Uh, really? That was my first reaction to this shameful stat. I know it was a little bit snide, and I apologize for that, but I work at a social media measurement company and I just can’t believe that a marketer would do so much without feeling confident in his or her measurement tactics. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Guys. Gals. Get it together. If you’re doing the legwork, make sure you know the mileage. It’s like going to the gym, lifting weights, and never knowing how much weight you’re lifting, i.e. how strong you’re getting. It’s like setting a goal weight, making significant diet and activity level changes, then never weighing yourself ever again. It’s silly, and you would never do it. But enough with the weight analogies.

What I really mean to say is: make this year about measurement. That means your days of relying on qualitative tactics to explain strategies and campaigns to external departments and managers is numbered, and your years of learning how to better strategies going forward based on proven results begin.

Only 43% of marketers surveyed have a mobile-optimized blog.

It’s a lower number than I expected, but it’s up from 28% in 2013, which is a pretty significant jump. This is the marketing industry recognizing that, according to the Pew Center as of May 2013, 63% of adult cell users use their phones to go online and 34% of internet users go online only through their phones, and those numbers are only rising.

Takeaway here: If you want your content to be perceived as professionally put together and visually appealing, make sure it looks as good on your iPhone as it does on your laptop.

A whopping 84%+ of participants experienced increased traffic from as little as 6 hours of social media marketing per week.

And that number only increases as the length of the marketer’s social media marketing experience increases. What’s surprising to me here?

That so little output of effort can result in so much reward. Now the trick is to get folks to stick around that beautifully written, visually gorgeous site of yours.

Serious social media marketers are focusing heavily on Instagram. No one else is.

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Marketers who put in the most time on social media (40 hours+) are 46% more focused on Instagram than their less socially-minded counterparts. This large disparity is very interesting to me, since it indicates that one of these groups knows something the other doesn’t. More experienced social media marketers tend to be best at weeding through which networks are passing fads and which are here to stay – I take these findings as a strong encouragement for brands (especially B2C brands) to invest time and effort with Instagram.

Google+ is the #1 platform brands want to learn more about.

Long considered an also-ran by industry folks, Google+ is clearly turning a corner. According to Social Media Examiner’s report, 65% of the marketers surveyed want to learn more about Google+ and 61% plan on increasing their activities on the network in 2014.

What surprises you?

What’s shocking to you in the report? What’s expected? What’s ah-ha!, and what’s duh? Let me know in the comments below!

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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