Research suggests that a fifth of businesses in the UK are yet to develop a social media strategy, with only a third actively using it as a medium to promote their products or brand.
A further third of businesses have made initial attempts to utilise social media before giving up on the process.
According to a new report released this month by a catalogue and direct marketing specialist, 20% of UK businesses are yet to put a social media strategy in place, with only 31% actively using social media as a marketing platform. Comparative statistics from a similar report last year, suggested that 67% of businesses used social as a marketing tool, implying that the use of social media has dropped by a third in the space of 12 months.
The report, put together by direct marketing, design and print specialists Catalogues 4 Business (C4B), questioned more than 300 UK organisations as part of research into corporate marketing strategies. Respondents to the study were drawn from a diverse mix of businesses, both B2B and B2C, which spanned multiple industry sectors.
According to the findings, social media (31%) is widely used by companies as part of their marketing approach. However, when compared to a C4B study from 2013, there has been a 36% drop in usage, suggesting that many businesses attempt to adopt social media, before giving up.
Ian Simpson, managing director of C4B commented: “I find it a real eye-opener that social media was a more popular tool for businesses in 2013 than it is this year. I would’ve assumed that this figure would have risen, not fallen so dramatically! Does it imply that many businesses have made an attempt before giving up? You would expect all companies to have social media included in their marketing mix. It’s a fantastic method of customer interaction – for both existing and potential customers. Perhaps an insufficient social media strategy failed to see initial attempts get off the ground.”
The report revealed that, despite its drop in popularity, social media is still the fifth most effective marketing tool for businesses. According to the study, 14% of respondents stated that their social media strategy successfully delivers sales, whilst networking was cited as the number one driver at 24%.
The study also found that social media was often used in conjunction with a catalogue as part of a wider marketing plan, with 33% of socially active businesses also implementing a catalogue in their strategy. In addition, the results suggested that 46% of companies that used email marketing utilised a catalogue alongside this approach.
Simpson added: “Companies who don’t have a social media strategy are missing out on a key method of communication with their customer base. If you use catalogue marketing, social media helps to provide a bridge between you and the consumer. Some people are reluctant to pick up the telephone for a minor query, and this is something that social media can help with. A simple question from a customer, followed by an accurate and timely response, will help to form a bond and demonstrate that you value their feedback and interaction.”
The study also looked at the most popular platforms that businesses opted to use when executing their social media strategy. The results revealed that Facebook was number one at 40%, followed by LinkedIn (35%) and Twitter (33%). Google Plus, which didn’t even feature as a relevant marketing tool in last year’s report findings, is now used by 17% of businesses that have invested time on social media.
Simpson concluded: “The significance of Google Plus’ entry this year can’t be ignored. Whilst Facebook and Twitter, with their widespread consumer appeal, and LinkedIn with its B2B benefits are obvious players, Google Plus is definitely on the rise. The positive SEO effects of using the platform means that businesses really should be considering Google Plus as a serious marketing channel if they want to improve their position in Google search rankings.”