A new survey indicates more traditional business marketing money is being spent on social media activities, including using the public services to build customer relationships, not just drum up publicity.
Last year 72 per cent of businesses allocated more than 10 per cent of their marketing budget to social media, up from 57 per cent of businesses in 2009. And social media is winning more money for marketing programs in general.
According to the Nielsen-Community Engine 2011 Social Media Business Benchmarking Study, 44 per cent of participating businesses expanded their marketing budgets in 2011 to fund a social media strategy.
The local study was commissioned by social business software company Community Engine and conducted in April 2011 from a sample of 417 respondents, of which 83 were businesses in the private sector employing 100 or more staff.
Some 40 per cent of businesses allocated the most of their social media budget to display advertising or maintaining a presence on Facebook, which is the most popular social network platform with one in four Australian businesses having a Facebook presence.
According to Community Engine, more businesses are building up social media marketing expertise.
The company's director of social, Stephen Johnson, said only 35 per cent of businesses lack knowledge and expertise to implement social media activities, down from 53 per cent in 2009.
"A significant proportion of businesses want control of the online platforms with one in five saying they would much prefer to create their own social network than to utilise external social networks," Johnson said.
Only about 16 per cent of businesses have difficulty measuring the ROI of social media activities, down from 28 per cent in 2009.
Another key finding of the survey is a shift from using social media for branding to using it for customer relationships.
Some 43 per cent of businesses see social media as a way to build a relationship with customers and stakeholders, with 33 per cent viewing it as a branding tool, down from 61 per cent in 2009.
Popular marketing activities include, maintaining a presence in social media networks (28 per cent); tracking and monitoring what is said about the company and staff (26 per cent); and responding to and acting on comments (25 per cent).
Unsurprisingly, large businesses tend to be more active on social media than SMEs.
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