Adam T. Sutton

Social Media Marketing: Tactics ranked by effectiveness, difficulty and usage

April 26th, 2011

I’ve been browsing the new MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report this week and soaking up the rich data. One of the first charts that struck me is a bubble chart on social marketing tactics.Social Marketing Tactics Chart 2011

First, I want to say, I love these bubble charts. They provide a three-dimensional view of the data on a given topic. Our researchers do a great job of packing them full of information without making them confusing.

This chart graphs the effectiveness, difficulty and popularity of each social media marketing tactic. You’ll notice a clear positive correlation between a tactics’ level of difficulty and its level of effectiveness.

Hard work pays off

For those of you who have not brushed up on your statistics lately (as I just brushed up a moment ago) I will note that a positive correlation between two factors means that as one factor increases, the second factor increases. For example, there is a positive correlation between my consumption of ice cream and the temperature outside.

Looking at this chart, it’s clear that the most effective social marketing tactics are also the most difficult, and vice-versa. Blogger relations — the most effective tactic reported — is also the only tactic to break into the 70%-range in terms of marketers reporting it as “very” or “somewhat” difficult.

You’ll also see that the three most-effective tactics — blogging, SEO for social sites, and blogger relations — are known to require significant amounts of time and effort before results are shown.

Every tactic is somewhat effective

Take a look at the scale on this chart’s Y-axis (level of effectiveness). Those listed percentages correspond to the number of marketers who reported a tactic as “very” effective. What they do not include are the marketers who reported a tactic as “somewhat effective.”

Looking at the chart, you might guess that adding social sharing buttons to emails is a waste of time — but don’t be too quick to write this tactic off completely. Only 10% of social marketers reported it as “very effective,” but 55% rated it as “somewhat effective” (found deeper in the report). With a total of 65% of social marketers reporting at least some effectiveness, these buttons might be worth the small investment they require.

Also, since adding social sharing buttons bottoms-out the Y-axis here, every other tactic listed has more than 65% of social marketers reporting at least some effectiveness. Here are some examples:

  • Social sharing buttons on websites: 69% say at least “somewhat” effective
  • Advertising on social sites: 73%
  • Microblogging: 75%

Related resources:

MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report

Free Webinar: Best Practices for Improving Search and Social Marketing Integration

Marketing Research Chart: Using social media as a list-growth tactic

Inbound Marketing newsletter – Free Case Studies and How To Articles from MarketingSherpa’s reporters

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Marketing, Research And Measurement, Social Networking Evangelism Community Tags: , , ,

  1. April 27th, 2011 at 05:49 | #1

    Adam, it’s a great post. I liked this bubble chart too like the other charts of yours. It gives a nice insight of various social marketing tactics to improve the overall performance of the campaign. Also it helps to forecast which tactics needs more time and efforts as compare to other tactics.

  2. April 28th, 2011 at 23:11 | #2

    Adam, thanks for your post.
    Your bubble graph shows exactly what social media is all about. The more passive social techniques we use the less effective they are. If we “just” share articles on Twitter, Facebook or wherever we are not truly interacting with others and effectiveness of the actions is low. If we comment on blog posts, retweet information and forward email messages we truly interact and this is what social media is all about and your bubbles show that as well.

  3. April 29th, 2011 at 15:29 | #3

    That’s an interesting description of positive correlation Adam. You seem to be suggesting that the more ice cream you consume, the hotter the outside temperature gets. Would you mind coming to Surrey and eating more ice cream?

    On a less flippant note, that’s a very interesting post. Thanks for the insights.

  4. May 2nd, 2011 at 10:29 | #4

    A nice positive spin on social media marketing. According to the recent Forrester study, however, only about 2% of all “pushing a product” through social media finalizes as a purchase. I agree that even as little as 10% of that 2% might be worth something, but the ROI on social media marketing seems to be very very low.

  5. May 2nd, 2011 at 10:38 | #5

    Great post that should help potential or reluctant marketers to evaluate a social media program. Corporate marketers with whom I’ve worked have been reluctant to blog. This study shows its relevance. In the end, social marketing is about content.

  6. May 2nd, 2011 at 14:42 | #6

    Very interesting post! Sparks these additional thoughts:

    I agree with Julie – it is all about content. Media come and go (billboards were hot when the highway system was young, e.g.) but the fundamentals are forever. They were revolutionary, then they went away.

    Right now, blogging is a fantastic way to connect through stories. Corporate blogs, blogger relations, SEO for social sites all get a brand in the conversation.

    But the real question is how to connect brands to people in a competitive economy. We demand more meaning from our brands and media increasingly facilitates conversation about meaning.

    Think of Mike Rowe carrying on a conversation through highly interactive TV ads about “swapping your ride” for a Ford. The ads are more about the people than about the car. This same message can easily be carried through social media channels too, but I can’t imagine anyone would recommend blogging as the main way to run this campaign.

    So I agree with Julie that “content is still king (or queen).” Always will be.

  7. May 3rd, 2011 at 01:25 | #7

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the short insightful article. Been looking for something like this to show clients just what they should be really doing. Man tell you South Africa is still a hard place to convince people, especially with the internet and especially social media marketing, but slowly winning the battle.



  8. May 16th, 2011 at 12:59 | #8

    @Greg Golebiewski
    Great point Greg, can you post a link to that particular Forrester study or abstract?

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