By Dan Berthiaume
While the social media BPO marketplace is relatively small, it has shown dramatic growth since 2010 and marketers are interested in outsourcing higher-level social media functions. These are some of the most noteworthy results of the new “2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” from Social Media Examiner.
Almost all (94%) of the 2,722 survey respondents employ social media for marketing purposes, and 83% say it is important to their business.
Social Media Outsourcing Market Small, But Growing
Survey results indicate the marketplace for social media outsourcing services is small but has rapidly grown in the past two years. Thirty percent of social media marketers outsource at least some of their efforts. This is a relatively small percentage, but has more than doubled since 14% of respondents said they outsourced at least some social marketing efforts in 2010, and risen another 7% since 28% indicated they did do last year. Thus social media should be seen as an emerging market by BPO providers, and one that is new enough for a BPO provider to make a mark.
Design/Development Most Outsourced Social Media Marketing Function
Design/development is the most outsourced social media marketing function by a wide margin, with 20% of marketers who engage in social media BPO outsourcing it. Design/development outsourcing almost doubles the engagement level of the second-most-outsourced social media marketing function, analytics (11%). Less popularly outsourced social media marketing tasks include content creation (10%), monitoring (7%) and research (7%).
The relatively high levels of interest in outsourcing more complex, strategic activities such as design/development and analytics should be welcomed by BPO providers, as these are more profitable tasks to manage on an outsourced basis, and also more difficult to bring in-house or switch to another provider.
Social Media Marketers Increase Exposure
Looking at the benefits marketers obtain from social media, the most popular benefit by far is increased exposure, cited by 85% of respondents. Increased traffic (69%) and marketplace insight (65%) follow.
Interestingly, the “hard ROI” benefits of reduced marketing expenses (46%) and improved sales (40%) were the two lowest- ranked benefits. This could signify that social media BPO providers should not focus too much on ROI when pitching their services, or alternatively may mean that there is a need for social media ROI that BPO providers have an opportunity to provide as a competitive differentiator.
‘Big 3’ Networks Dominate
Not surprisingly, the traditional “big three” social networks of Facebook (92%), Twitter (82%), and LinkedIn (73%) are the most frequently used by social media marketers. Interestingly, the generic response of blogs (61%) beat any other specific social network in terms of marketing usage.
While these results give some general guidance as to where social media BPO provider should concentrate their efforts, 40% of respondents cited Google +, which Social Media Examiner says is a significant percentage considering Google + was launched in September 2011 and is still having features added. Furthermore, a leading 70% of social media marketers want to learn more about Google +, with blogs coming in a distant second at 59% and Facebook third at 58%.
In addition, while only 57% of social media marketers currently use YouTube and other social video platforms, 76% plan to increase their efforts on YouTube and video marketing.