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Benchmarking Survey Finds Rapid Movement into Social Media for Online Marketing Initiatives
"This area is developing quickly," said Ken McGill, EVP of Research for Travelcom, which supported the research. "This study found that about two-thirds of the responding firms maintained a social media strategy and had internal staff that worked on social media to maintain the firm's reputation. But only about half currently provide e-commerce functionality for their customers."
Two-thirds of the sample comprised accommodation marketers, with the remainder being destination marketers or those responsible for other types of marketing. The average online budget for 2010 was about $60,000 for accommodation marketers and $80,000 for destination marketers, but expenditure levels ranged widely, from under $10,000 to over $1 million. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents reported spending less than $10,000 on mobile media in 2010, about two thirds spent less than $10,000 on all social media marketing.
"Looking at these data, companies may want to reconsider their budget appropriations for social media marketing," said Professor Rohit Verma, executive director of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, who conducted the study. "When asked what their greatest frustrations are in social media strategies, the markers' top answers by far were budget limitations and lack of resources. It's true that some social media campaigns can be conducted without great expense, but the social media space is rapidly filling up."
About 80 percent of the marketers said that they produced Twitter campaigns and social promotions in-house, but at the other end of the scale, such critical functions as search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are largely outsourced. Accommodation firms are more likely to outsource all social media functions, including pay-per-call, Twitter campaigns, and pay-per-click management. Destination marketers, on the other hand, generally handle more functions in-house, although they also are more likely to outsource pay-per-click management, search engine optimization, and video distribution than they are pay-per-call, branding, and Twitter campaigns.
When asked which social media site was very effective, the largest percentage of respondents chose Facebook as tops, followed by Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Smaller percentages of respondents rated Gowall, Flickr, MySpace, and FourSquare as very effective. The top purpose for using these social media sites was marketing and promotion, followed closely by commerce and conversion. Just under 60 percent of the respondents said marketing and sales department set and managed social media policies.
About two-thirds of the marketers used agencies to manage online media and place online advertising. Although mobile website development was mostly outsourced, work on social sites was often handled in-house, particularly by destination marketers. Just over half of the accommodation providers maintained blogs, but barely one-third of the destination marketers did so. Blog writers were mostly directors of marketing, social media, or public relations staff. Few blog writers were at the CEO or president level.
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