The end of the year is often a time for review and forecasts for the coming year. So what happened in 2010 and what does 2011 hold in store?
Last year our review of 2009 picked on similar topics to those that featured again throughout 2010. Marketing budgets were under pressure - they still are - the importance of content was discussed as was social media and the decline of print as content moves online. We noted that the year ended with the coldest pre-Christmas weather for years (until this year that is) and the growing interest in green marketing. Well green marketing was not mentioned in 2010 but social media and video was. We started in January with 'The year of video?" and suggested video had a growing and important role in online marketing. Few clients have actually embraced this although most acknowledge the benefits and YouTube was the third most visited site in 2010. It is an area where investment in professional video production is noticeable in terms of quality and few have so far committed budget to this. It was a matter we covered later with "Do it yourself or hire a professional?" blog noting the limitations of much in-house production quality to save money - the marketing budget issue again. In fact we said that marketing budgets must evolve to allocate investment for new and evolving marketing tools.
It is fair to say that amongst our b-2-b clients little has changed with regard to adoption of social media, at all in most cases. For those who have an emerging social media policy it is still early days with modest interest by their customers at best. We asked "Is it time to redefine target audience classification?" to address the individualistic social media 'club'. We also raised the importance of market research for b-2-b companies. One interesting insight from market research for one client is that although unsurprisingly the web was the preferred source for product information, some three quarters already knew which web sites to go to and only a quarter searched on generic terms. A strong argument for on and offline branding.
A recent report suggests that b-2-b marketers are using social media to:-
- Build brand awareness
- Increase web traffic
- Generate sales leads
- Provide deeper engagement
- Improve search results
Experience so far suggests that goals 1 to 3 are general aims not specific to social media there is no clear evidence that Facebook for example is contributing to this from a review of Google Analytics or that any but a handful of people are engaged in the 'conversation'. What we can confirm is that blog links are being picked up and ranked highly which must help with search results.
So maybe 2011 will see more b-2-b companies adopting a social media policy, but it will require allocating marketing budget to do this properly.