84% use social media to increase exposure

Although 84 per cent of business organisations use social media as a means of obtaining added exposure, 63 per cent of respondents still make use of print advertising and believe in this medium’s effectiveness.

This and other interesting data emerged from a survey by MISCO and Corporate Identities to learn how the use of social media by local businesses is evolving and contributing to marketing strategies.

This report, now finalised and available for free, contains the results of research conducted in October 2013 among 89 businesses operating in different economic activities.

“The fact that 84 per cent of organisations in this survey use social media such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn reflects the importance of the role of social media networking in the way Maltese businesses communicate with their audiences. In fact, 45 per cent also expressed their belief that social media investment contributes to an increase in acquiring new business or retaining current business,” said Lawrence Zammit, director of MISCO Consulting.

As one would expect, Facebook placed the highest as businesses’ most preferred social media channel, with 68 per cent of respondents saying that this channel is an intrinsic part of their online marketing strategy. In fact, when asked to rank those channels most used, Facebook dominates as the most popular social media networking website, with 90 per cent of businesses using it. Interestingly, LinkedIn was the next most popular platform, with 59 per cent of the businesses using this channel. Other channels being used by businesses, albeit on a much low­er scale, include Pininterest, Tumblr, You Tube, Instagram and Four­square as well as online blogging.

“Another interesting aspect was that the majority of the organisations which participated in this survey (74 per cent) stated that they currently do not outsource any of their social media activities. One of the advantages of social media is the immediacy it gives to companies who want to communicate there and then with the public. In fact, many companies still prefer to assign the management of social media to their internal marketing team.

“However, as social media use becomes more aggressive, targeted and demanding, we will not be surprised if more businesses decide to start outsourcing this to specialist communications companies,” adds Jes Saliba, managing director of specialist PR, marketing and branding company Corporate Identities.

“What we also found interesting was the popularity shared by two contrasting channels. In fact, e-mail marketing, which targets directly the potential consumer, went down as one of the most popular tools with a staggering 74 per cent of the businesses using it. On the other hand, print advertising, albeit a more generic way of targeting customers, also remains a widely used marketing tool, with 63 per cent of business making use of this channel. All this contrasts with the meagre 11 per cent of businesses who use mobile marketing to communicate with their customers,” Mr Saliba added.

With regards to web portals, 55 per cent of respondents, including businesses that do not usually use social media marketing, consider online portals as the most effective media to reach audiences.

This contrasts with the 33 per cent who would consider TV and radio adverts for their marketing campaigns.

Mr Zammit said despite the great use of social media platforms, business owners are still finding it difficult to measure the return on investment.

In fact, 38 per cent of the participating organisations that currently use social media marketing consider it rather difficult to measure the return on investment such a marketing tool provides.

“It is nice to know that your business has garnered 10,000, 30,000 or 50,000 likes, and that could be a way of knowing the outreach of your online campaigns. Having said that, likes are not everything. It’s how much you engage with your customers and ultimately how your customers personally engage with your brand that really matters,” said Mr Saliba.

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