State of the (social) nation: Part 2 – How marketers from around the world are using social media to grow their business

The other day I published State of the (social) nation: Part 1 – Social media in Australia, a look at how businesses and consumers are using social technologies in Australia, based on the Sensis Social Media Report 2015.

Now I am going to bookend that post with my take on what’s happening globally, based on the Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2015 published recently by Social Media Examiner.


The Social Media Examiner report is based on a survey of 3720 participants from around the world (half of respondents were based in the US, followed by United Kingdom (9 per cent), Canada (6 per cent) and Australia (5 per cent).

The largest group that took the survey work for small businesses of 2-10 employees (37 per cent), followed by self- employed (23 per cent); 17 per cent of people taking the survey work for businesses with 100 or more employees.

More than half (61 per cent) of survey participants focus primarily on attracting consumers (B2C) the balance primarily targeting businesses (B2B).

Marketers are confused about social media, but keen to learn

Marketers globally are still trying to get their heads around social media generally, with tactics, engagement, measurement, audience and tools uppermost in their minds.

Desk with Social Media and Connection Concept

According to Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2015, between 87 per cent and 92 per cent of marketers surveyed felt they were struggling to answer the following questions:

  1. TACTICS: What social tactics are most effective?
  2. ENGAGEMENT: What are the best ways to engage my audience with social
  3. MEASUREMENT: How do I measure the return on my social media marketing?
  4. AUDIENCE: How do I find my target audience with social media?
  5. TOOLS: What are the best social management tools?Facebook takes pride of place in

In terms of the tools and technologies, unsurprisingly Facebook dominates the thoughts of marketers – according to the report, 93 per cent of respondents are using Facebook, 68 per cent want to learn more about the platform, while 62 per cent plan on increasing Facebook activities.

After Facebook, also figuring in marketers’ thinking are Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, with 66 per cent planning on increasing their use of these social networks.

The future is also looking bright for online video, with 57 per cent of respondents claiming they currently use video in their marketing, with 72 per cent keen to learn more about video marketing.

While podcasting is leveraged by precious few marketers (just 10 per cent), the audio content bug looks to have caught on, with 26 per cent planning to increase their podcasting activities; interestingly, 43 per cent of marketers want to learn more about podcasting, indicating we may just be at the very tip of the content iceberg for this fast-becoming-popular medium.

Marketers globally versus Aussie businesses

According to the Social Media Examiner report, an overwhelming majority (96%) of respondents said they were participating in social media marketing – compared to the paltry 33 per cent of Aussie businesses having a social media presence, as per the Sensis Social Media Report 2015 – while significantly, 92 per cent of marketers said social media was important to their business.

PLEASE NOTE: We have to be a little careful comparing these two significant social media research papers – the Sensis report is the result of a survey of random businesses across the board, while the Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2015 is based on survey results largely from Social Media Examiner’s email subscriber list. It also cast the net wider via Twitter, but we need to be cognisant participants were either very interested in social media (because they read/subscribe to Social Media Examiner), or are at least are on Twitter.


Of the participants in the Social Media Examiner survey, 64 per cent are using social media for six hours or more and 41% for 11 hours or more; of note, 19% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.

time spent on social media

The report identifies a correlation between how long marketers have been using social media and their weekly time commitment – for people just beginning with social media (less than 12 months’ experience), 49 per cent spend five or fewer hours per week; this compares to those who have been doing it 2+ years – at least 68 per cent of them spend six hours or more per week on social media activities.

Benefits of social media

Brand exposure and increased web traffic are seen as the two most significant benefits of being on social media, with 90 per cent of marketers indicating their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses while 77 per cent reported a lift in traffic to their website.

A solid percentage of respondents (69 per cent) said using social media helped them “develop loyal fans” while a similar number (68 per cent) felt listening to social media was useful in providing “marketplace insight”.

But if we look at the graph below, there’s no doubt that having an active social media presence can benefit businesses in a number of ways.

benefits of social media

Aah yes, but does social media improve sales?

Well … yes, and no.

More than half of marketers who have been using social media for at least two years claim it has helped them grow sales, while 73 per cent of those who spend 40+ hours per week earn new business through their efforts.

These statistics, of course, indicate you need to be persistent if you want to see sales growth from using social media –  you need to put in the time, if not over the long haul (2+ years), then at least on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis.


There’s a flipside, with 49 per cent of marketers taking this survey indicating that social media has not helped them improve sales.

Of course, there could be any number of reasons for this – the report suggests perhaps they may lack the needed tools to track sales and that’s a fair call, but I’m tipping another reason is because they’re using social platforms in ways that could be considered ‘traditional marketing’ i.e. broadcasting too many self-centred one-way messages.

If being discovered via search engines is important for your business, then the next stat will be of interest! According to the report, improved search engine rankings were most prevalent among those who have been using social media for one year or longer, with a whopping 54 per cent of respondents reporting a rise.

Most popular social platforms

Okay, this is where it gets interesting.

Facebook at the top is a given as the top platform used by business, but Twitter at number 2 (79 per cent) is a bit of a surprise when we compare to the Australian Sensis figures (where it still ranked #2 after Facebook but at a paltry 17 per cent for small business, 38 per cent medium-sized business, and 46 per cent for large businesses – an average of 33 per cent across the three sizes of business, which is half of the global figure).

Globally, LinkedIn ranks third most popular, Google+ fourth – the same rankings as in Australia – but again there is a significant disparity in terms of penetration locally versus globally:

  • LinkedIn  – global (71 per cent) vs Australia (24 per cent averaged out across small/medium/large businesses).
  • Google+ – global (56 per cent) vs Australia (11 per cent). 
Screenshot 2015-06-10 17.59.02

And the single most important social platform according to marketers is…

Social Media Examiner asked marketers to select the single most important social platform for their business. According to the report, because only one choice was allowed, the findings are revealing.

Facebook comes out on top (yawn) with 52 per cent – but not as high as you’d imagine, actually, followed by:

  • LinkedIn (21 per cent)
  • Twitter (12 per cent)
  • YouTube and Google+ (4 per cent each)
important social media

 However, when B2C is compared to B2B …

  • B2C – 65 per cent of marketers selected Facebook as their number one choice (compared to Twitter at 10 per cent and LinkedIn 9 per cent);
  • B2B – 41 per cent of marketers selected LinkedIn as their number one choice (compared to Facebook at 30 per cent and Twitter 19 per cent).

And finally, where are marketers going to increase their efforts in the “near future”?

  • A majority of marketers (66 per cent) indicated they will be increasing their activities on Twitter.
  • Ditto YouTube, also at 66 per cent.
  • Ditto again (66 per cent, how weird is that?) plan to increase their activity on LinkedIn.

Facebook comes next at 62 per cent followed by Instagram and Google+ (both 52 per cent) and Pinterest (51 per cent).

Basically, a good number of marketers are going to increase their activity pretty much across the board – does this mean they’re taking a shotgun approach to the key social media platforms?

Interesting times ahead!


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