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Social media marketing in need of genuine 'experts'

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20th May 2010
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While using social media for brand promotion may be on the up among marketing and communications professionals, nearly half are unsure of how to use it to best effect.

These are the findings of a survey among 115 in-house marcoms personnel undertaken by consultancy McCann Erickson. Its Social Media Index 2010 indicated that, although almost three out of five respondents currently used social media as a communications tool in their daily jobs - up 22% on last year - almost a quarter of respondents found advances in the area difficult to keep up with.

A further 17% said that, while they did not employ social media techniques regularly, they were interested in doing so. But 22.4% pointed out that, although they would like to understand the medium more, they found it difficult to unearth genuine ‘experts’ in the field to help them.

Joanna Randall, head of PR and social media communications at the firm’s Bristol branch which conducted the study, said: "There is clearly an upward trend in overall usage of social media as a marketing communications channel. However, we would still like to see some of the barriers removed for UK marketers, particularly where access is blocked at work, and there is a clear need for more information and training specifically targeted to them."

Just under a quarter of marcoms professionals are currently denied access to social networking sites by their IT departments, down from 46% last year, the study showed, which makes campaign execution and monitoring impossible for them.

Among those that are in a position to undertake such monitoring, however, by far the most popular online tool was Google Alerts, which is free (45.5% of those questioned). Some 37% undertake ad hoc monitoring in-house, while Radian 6 is the most popular paid-for tool (14.3%).

Twitter, meanwhile, is the social network of choice, with 61% of respondents saying that they use it regularly as a means of distributing new stories, up from 28% last year.

But about half of those questioned were unsure where ultimate responsibility for social media communications should reside, indicating that it was currently spread between a range of disciplines. Some 23% thought it should be handled by PR staff and 11% by digital experts.

Interestingly, however, about three out of ten respondents also believed there were simply too many social networks around these days, while about 12% thought that they were becoming too commercial.

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