Custom and social media look to be strong this year

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Although b-to-b marketers may be freezing or cutting back their budgets this year, there are some bright spots. In an e-mail survey of b-to-b marketers, publishers and agencies conducted last month, Junta42, a community dedicated to content marketing and custom media, identified two—content marketing and social media.

The survey attracted 196 respondents—all subscribers of Junta42—including corporate marketers (42%), traditional publishers/media (22%), marketing/advertising agencies (19%), custom publishers (15%) and association marketers (3%). Joe Pulizzi, founder and chief content officer of Junta42, noted that “about 90% of the subscriber base states that they are b-to-b.”

More than half of the respondents said they plan to increase content marketing spending this year, with 31% planning to boost it significantly and an additional 25% planning to increase it slightly. Thirty-one percent said they would keep spending the same, leaving only 13% planning a decrease.

In a similar survey fielded by Junta42 last March, only 42% of respondents expected to increase content marketing budgets.

In the December survey, respondents were also asked to list their most important marketing tactics for this year, not necessarily within custom marketing. From a list of 15 tactics, social media (not including blogs) came out on top, identified by 68% of subscribers. It was followed by e-newsletters/e-mail (60%), blogs (56%), case studies (55%), online video (51%) and white papers (46%). At the bottom of the list were more traditional tactics: custom print magazines (29%), custom in-person events (22%) and print newsletters (14%). (Respondents were allowed to choose multiple tactics.)

Terrence Grogan, managing director of Penton Custom Media, said of the findings: “Although I question the social media number being so high without the blogs, I absolutely, unequivocally agree with the spending numbers,” he said.

“We include aspects of social media in all our proposals to clients, but we’ve had very few marketers agree to make that part of what they’re going to do with us,” he added. “Social media has great viral capabilities, but in a tough economy marketers are extremely cautious about spending their money on new or relatively unproven items.”

Todd Smart, president of BeTuitive Publishing, agreed that custom media spending is growing. “We think an increase of 80% is conservative for us between 2008 and 2009,” he said.

In the last 12 months, Smart said, “we’ve been doubling the value our clients get out of their [custom] publications by helping them market them, and one way we do that is with social media,” which include social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, wikis, blogs, Twitter and social networks built for specific clients.

Laura Chavoen, exec VP-strategy at Imagination, said social media can provide a host of ROI measurements at a time when marketers are extremely focused on proving the value of their programs.

“The power of the business intelligence you can gather by using social media to distribute and raise awareness of your content is mindboggling,” she said. “Social media metrics allow you to see not only how many people viewed the content but also how many people thought it was so interesting that they forwarded it to someone else, commented on it, rated it or took that URL and put it on their blogs. I can track all of that.”

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