Engagement, not volume, is key to social marketing

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To get the most out of social media marketing campaigns, marketers would do well to focus less on pushing out volumes of content and more on engaging with their audiences, according to a study by the Altimeter Group. But that's not an easy task for many marketers. According to Altimeter's "State of Social Business 2013" report, based on a series of online surveys of marketing executives, businesses are struggling with where to place social media within their marketing strategies. Only 52% of the companies surveyed said their executives are knowledgeable about enterprise social strategy. While 85% of respondents said their companies have a structured social media policy, only 18% indicated that their employees' understanding of those policies is "good" or "very good." And just 17% described themselves as "strategic" with their social strategies.

Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter, attributed the disconnect in part to many b-to-b marketers' assumption that social marketing is primarily a b-to-c activity, ignoring its b-to-b impact. "When you can align content marketing to the needs or expectations of your customers and those customers' customers, the content becomes not just a form of utility but also lead-gen," Solis said. "When people do research and they figure out what will benefit their customers—and they invest in that type of engagement—then social media has a purpose." Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO of Vivaldi Partners, said many marketers believe that producing high volumes of content can be a successful approach to finding readers, ignoring the benefits of producing less but more engaging content. "Social media has enabled many b-to-b agencies to produce more content, but just because you can doesn't mean you should," he said.

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