The 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, commissioned by the Social Media Examiner, has released this year’s findings.

This annual report provides insight on what social networks other marketers are using, which ones you should be focusing on, which tactics are most effective, and how content plays a role in social media marketing.

Key Insights and Takeaways

This is the report’s 7th annual survey, which questioned more than 3,700 marketers in a complete spectrum of industries from around the world. To put together the report, Social Media Examiner asked marketers what questions they wanted asked and answered.

Tactics was the top concern for most marketers – 91% of those surveyed said they wanted to know “the most effective social tactics and the best ways to engage their audience with social media.” Other key questions that marketers wanted answered included:

  • “How do I find my target audience with social media?”
  • “What are the best social management tools?”
  • “How do I measure the return on my social media marketing?”

Here are some of the key findings from the report:

The vast majority of marketers felt that social media was important to their businesses. A full 96% of marketers reported that they participate in social media marketing, and 92% said that it was important to their businesses. As little as 6 hours per week spent on social media marketing helped businesses increase their exposure, according to 91% of the respondents.

Very few marketers feel they are able to measure their social media marketing ROI effectively.In fact, only 8% “strongly agreed” and 34% “agreed” that they were able to measure their ROI effectively. According to Michael Stelzner, who runs Social Media Examiner, this has been a recurring theme over the past several years.

Around 90% of marketers surveyed found that social media increases their exposure, followed by increased traffic, at 77%. Additionally, 68% of marketers use social media to gain marketplace intelligence, 69% use it to develop loyal fans, and 65% used it to generate leads. Other measured benefits, such as improved sales and established thought leadership, all fell between 50% and 58%.

When this data was broken down even further, more than half of marketers who had been using social media for at least 2 years found that it did improve their sales. And more than half of those who spent 6 or more hours per week on social media reported the same.

Marketers who spent 6 hours per week or more on their social media marketing activities saw a number of benefits. In addition to the improvements in sales, increased time spent on social media saw increases in lead generation, reduced marketing expenses, new business partnerships, and increased traffic, as mentioned.

If marketers had to choose one single platform as “the most important” platform for their marketing, 52% of them would choose Facebook. LinkedIn came in second place, at 21%. Despite these numbers, 45% of marketers claimed they weren’t sure if Facebook marketin was effective.

When asked how marketers would be changing their activities in the near future, 66% of marketers planned to increase their activities on Twitter in the next 12 months. The report found that while Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn will be seeing increased attention from marketers, 82% said they have no plans to work with Snapchat.

Video is increasing in importance. Currently, 57% of marketers use video in their marketing, while 72% want to learn more about video marketing and plan to increase their use of it in the near future.

Only 50% of marketers have mobile-optimized blogs. Despite the clear transition to a mobile internet, and despite Google’s recent “Mobilegeddon” algorithm, 56% of B2B and 45% of B2C marketers have made their blogs mobile-friendly.

Over half of marketers spend 1-10 hours per week on social media marketing. One-third of marketers spend 1 to 5 hours per week on their social media marketing activities, while 25% spend 6 to 10 hours on their social media marketing. Significantly, when broken down, the report found that 64% of marketers used social media 6 or more hours per week and 41% used it 11 or more hours per week.

The weekly commitment to social media marketing varies by business size and by the marketer’s experience with social media. For instance, those just starting out on social media (with less than 12 months of experience), 49% spent 5 or fewer hours per week. Of those marketers who have been marketing on social media for 2 or more years, at least 68% spend 6 or more hours per week at it.

Age was also a determining factor in the number of hours spent marketing. Among the survey respondents, there were some who spent more than 40 hours per week doing social media marketing. Of those, 54% were younger than 40.

Experience working in social media also correlated to reported benefits. For instance, of those who had over a year’s worth of experience marketing on social media, 64% found it useful for building a loyal fan base. At least 63% found social platforms provided marketplace insight. And 57% marketers with more than 2 years of experience were able to use social media to establish thought leadership.

Clearly, this data points to some fascinating insights. A variety of factors, such as experience with social media and time spent per week, tend to have a direct impact on the results gained. The report itself is quite extensive, and any marketer interested in social media should definitely download a copy.