This post was written as part of a research blogging assignment for Stanford’s Networked Rhetorics class. For more about this assignment, click here.
The astounding growth in the popularity of social media has made it easier than ever before to spread information through word of mouth, and businesses have begun to take advantage of this to improve their marketing campaigns. However, not all companies have been successful in adopting a social media marketing (SMM) strategy. For my writing and rhetoric class here at Stanford University, I am investigating the impact social media has had on corporate marketing strategies, as well as the keys to a successful SMM strategy. What differences in strategy are there between companies with a strong social media presence and those without one? What social media applications are most effective for marketing purposes, and what qualities make them effective? Can social media marketing ever hope to replace more traditional forms of marketing?
One interesting article I’ve come across is titled, “How do the most successful companies use social media?” by Nora Ganim Barnes. For the past three years, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, led by Barnes, has conducted a study on the use of social media by Inc. 500 companies (the Inc. 500 ranks the top 500 U.S. private corporations by revenue growth). Through interviews with chief marketing officers or other marketing professionals at many of these companies, the Center has tracked the rapid growth of the use of social media at the fastest growing corporations in the United States.
The results show that more and more companies are recognizing the importance of social media in their marketing strategies. 43% of the 2009 Inc. 500 reported that social media was “very important” to their business/marketing strategy, as compared to just 26% in 2007. Also, more and more companies are willing to give social media a try. 91% of Inc. 500 companies are now using at least one social media tool, up from 77% percent in 2008.
The social media tools of choice are also changing. Use of social networking and blogs is up, while use of message boards, online video, wikis, and podcasts has leveled off or declined. The Center for Marketing Research chose to add Twitter to the study in 2009, and already, 52% of Inc. 500 companies are using it for their businesses.
Overall, this study has reinforced my belief that social media is becoming an essential part of any successful company’s marketing strategy. It has also pointed me towards social networking and blogs/microblogs as being the most effective forms of social media. I hope to use the knowledge gained from this study and other research sources to pinpoint the keys to a successful social media marketing strategy.
Christopher Sung, Stanford University