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Social Media Helps Businesses Generate Leads and Boost Sales
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While social media has in the past been criticized as a “warm and fuzzy” marketing tactic that doesn’t generate a measurable return on investment, that’s beginning to change. Now that social media has been around for a while (long enough to be fully incorporated into marketing strategies), both B2B and B2C companies polled in Social Media Examiner’s 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report say they see many benefits from social media–and while some of those benefits are intangible, others are very tangible.

Here’s what companies say they get out of social media marketing:

  • 89 percent of marketers say they get increased exposure from social media
  • 75 percent report it brings them increased traffic
  • 69 percent say it gives them insight into the marketplace
  • 65 percent say it helps develop loyal fans
  • 61 percent say it generates leads
  • 58 percent say it improves search rankings
  • 47 percent say it reduces marketing expenses
  • 43 percent say it has improved sales

What’s more, in all categories, the percentage of companies citing these benefits of social media has risen since Social Media Examiner’s 2012 survey was conducted, showing social media is becoming even more valuable as a sales and lead generation tactic.

If you’re not seeing leads and sales from your business social media efforts, one reason could be that you haven’t been doing it long enough or aren’t devoting enough time to it. Social Media Examiner notes that developing relationships through social media takes time and that patience is necessary to drive sales through social media.

But once you do invest the time, you’ll see results. The study reports that more than half of marketers who have been using social media for at least three years have seen improved sales. More than half of those who spend 11 or more hours per week on social media see sales improve.

You don’t need to put that much time in to social media to generate leads, however. More than half of marketers with at least one year of social media experience report they are generating leads on social platforms. And by spending as little as 6 hours per week on social media, 64 percent of marketers see lead generation benefits.

While Facebook was by far the most valuable social platform for B2C companies (cited by a whopping 67 percent), for B2B marketers, LinkedIn and Facebook were tied as most valuable platform, cited by 29 percent each.

What’s next for social media marketing? In the near future, marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube (69 percent), Facebook (66 percent), blogging (66 percent), LinkedIn (65 percent) and Twitter (64 percent), in that order. Also hot: podcasting. Just 5 percent of marketers currently use it, but 24 percent plan to start in the near future—a nearly fivefold increase.
What social media marketing tactics are you using to generate leads and boost sales? What will you be doing more of in the coming year?

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