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BizReport : Social Marketing : February 02, 2011

Facebook most popular, not most successful, social media tool

Social media is here to stay and Facebook is, no doubt, its flagship. Not only have half a billion people signed up to use the social network but tens of thousands of businesses have, too. It's the biggest, the best and the most-hyped - so it must be the social media tool that yields the most success for businesses, right?

by Helen Leggatt

Uni Mass logo.jpgWrong.

Facebook may be the most popular social media channel, but businesses certainly don't view it as the most successful tool in their box.

Almost three-quarters (71%) of companies in the Inc. 500 used Facebook in 2010, up from 61% the previous year, so it's certainly an avenue being explored. In contrast, 59% used Twitter and half used blogging.

Yet of those three tools, only blogging made it into the top three social media channels via which businesses have had success, found a study released in January 2011 from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.

In fact, it may surprise you to learn that good, old-fashioned, message boards were seen as the social media tool with which businesses have had the most success in 2010 (93%). A third of the companies involved in the research used message boards in 2010.

The same percentage of companies also found success with online video.

Facebook was successfully used by 85% of respondents, a marked improvement on 2009's 54%, but still trailing behind podcasting (89%), blogging (88%), and Twitter (81%).

Location-based social media tool Foursquare made an impressive first appearance. While used by only 5% of companies, 75% had success with it.

Whichever way you look at the numbers, adoption of social media tools is rising. Many businesses, some of which are still experimenting in the social space, are already seeing real benefits.

"These fast-growing companies drive the American economy," said Nora Ganim Barnes, the director of the Center for Marketing Research.

"Their willingness to interact so transparently via interactive technologies with their stakeholders defines them."

Other research, this time from Webtrends, found that while global ad spend on Facebook is forecast to more than double this year, performance of the average ad on the social network is disappointing.

Tags: Facebook, social media

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  • Businesses want relevant [consumer] queries; Consumers want relevant responses [results] from businesses. That's as direct as it gets. That's inverse search.

  • Great article! I believe it also depends on the company and what kind of business they conduct. Facebook might work well for one company, while blogging works better for another.

    We have noticed great results from our Flickr, blog, and Twitter accounts. We had a Facebook fan page, but cancelled it as we didn't see it as a good business value for us as a company.

  • greg

    Awful title, facebook is the most highly valued social network site at $50bn and seeing as the aim of any profitable website is to get as many users as possible facebook is defimitely the most successful. To say that its success is measured by its value to other businesses is ridiculous. This article is misleading and boring.

  • Helen,

    I think you are right on. However, over the past year we have seen a dramatic increase in businesses wanting to create business Facebook Fan pages with pretty high ROI results. I agree with you though, Facebook is lagging behind in business adaptability. It will be interesting to see what the next 12 months hold and see if that changes. My prediction is it will.



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