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Which Social Media Marketing Tactics Work Best?

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(eM+C)—Now that marketers’ tenure on social networks is at least a few years old, they are zeroing in on what they are best able to accomplish on the sites, what their biggest challenges are and how to most effectively track their performance.

Ascend2, an agency consulting company, surveyed marketing professionals around the world in February 2013, and the greatest percentage of respondents from both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies considered customer engagement to be the primary purpose of their social media marketing. Website traffic also ranked high for both types of marketing professionals.

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Leads were a more important end for B2Bs than B2Cs. Twenty-nine percent of B2Bs used social to generate better quality leads, and 27% sought to get more leads with the tactic.

Search engine rankings remain an important part of businesses’ digital strategy, and social media plays a role here too. Approximately one-quarter of both B2Bs and B2Cs used social media outreach to improve search rank.

The fundamental goal of increasing sales revenue was a social goal for over one-third of marketers from both B2Bs and B2Cs.

To best achieve social objectives, the greatest percentage of respondents cited creating articles and blog post content. These tactics fall directly in line with driving the goal of customer engagement. Other forms of content creation also ranked high, including research and whitepapers for B2Bs, and video and audio for both types of companies.

B2Cs found advertising on social networks to be a much more effective strategy than B2Bs did.

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Still, even if these strategies may prove the most effective at driving social goals, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to pull off.

The top three most effective social marketing tactics were also the most difficult tactics to execute. These findings mirror growing research that while content marketing is one of the latest and greatest marketing tactics, it is also difficult and time consuming to produce.

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As to what obstacles stood in the way of marketers achieving their social goals, the greatest percentage of respondents (42%) cited staff limitations—not having enough personnel to create the content or drive the continuous engagement that powers social.

Nearly two out five respondents, the next greatest percentage, said difficulty measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social channels was a major obstacle in their social efforts.

When marketers do set out to measure social performance, the greatest percentage—over 60% on both the B2B and B2C sides—said they looked at website traffic. This metric may be somewhat basic, but it is also direct and easy to measure. The same goes for tracking search engine rankings, which was the No. 2 response. These responses show that even as marketing tactics have become more sophisticated, marketers still turn to tried and true methods to quantify ROI.

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