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The editors at MBA in Marketing Degree Guide decided to research the topic of:
Digital Marketing's Most Overlooked and Misused Resource
Buyers are listening to what their key influencers are saying - sellers need to wake up to the fact that money talks much louder than likes.
Technorati issued their 2013 Digital Marketing Report, consisting of feedback from top influencers, many consumers, and major brand marketers. The trends and analysis in the report reveal a somewhat alarming reality: brands spend the least on the outlets consumers trust the most: the word of mouth of their friends and those they follow.
The reason? Most likely because marketers (and influencers, most likely) don't really know how to track performance of their social media marketing efforts. Let's see what the facts bear out.
Who do consumers trust when it comes to their purchasing decisions?
- 54 % of consumers report a greater amount of influence coming from communities of smaller size. So blogs with small but loyal followings can deliver high-percentage results in consumer influence. 
- 31% of Internet purchases are influenced by blogs, ranking blogs third in influence behind only retail (56%) and brand sites (34%) in influence. Basically, outside of the actual point of purchase, blogs are the definitive third-party influence online for consumers.  How do digital marketers spend?
- While bloggers and social media influencers are a premier source of influence, most digital marketers devote few resources to incorporating key influencers into their digital efforts.
- Myth: word-of-mouth marketing is free. Doing it right takes $$$.
- 60% of marketers expect to raise their digital budgets by 40% or more this year.
- Only 10% of that budget will go to social media spending, and only 11% of that will be invested in efforts involving social media influencers and bloggers (including advertising on blogs).
- 1.1%: the portion of digital marketing budgets allocated to social media influencers, the most influential third party toward consumer purchase decisions.
Definition: The Word of Mouth Marketing Association defines a social media influencer as a person or group of people who possess greater than average potential to influence due to attributes such as frequency of communication, personal persuasiveness or size of and centrality to a social network, among others.
- 65% of brands participate in influencer-based marketing using comScore and Nielsen to determine which influencers to engage.
- Unfortunate fact: blogs tend to receive dismal ratings on comScore and Nielsen.
- Facebook Likes: the main metric most marketers use to gauge the success of their campaigns with social influencers. Um . . . sales anyone?
- $1.7 million/0: The ratio of sales generated to facebook likes on a page created by marketer Marcus Sheridan, who argues vehemently that social shares are overrated. The goal of marketing is to influence purchasing, not influence facebook activity. 
- The shocking reality: most marketers don't accurately track the success of their work (if any) with social media influencers.
Who's Using What?
- Facebook: 1.06 billion active users 
- Population of India: 1.17 billion
- Foursquare: 10.4 million active users 
- Epcot Center: 10.8 million visitors per year
- Twitter: 200 million active users 
- Population of Brazil: 200 million
- Tumblr: 125 million active users 
- Contact lens wearers, worldwide: 125 million 
- Wordpress.com blogs: 25 billion page views a month 
- iTunes: 25 billion songs sold all time 
Fewer than half of social media influencers follow brands on facebook (47%) or twitter (38%) while well over half of the social media marketing budget goes toward those outlets.
Here's the bottom line:
- 74% of consumers rely on social media to influence their purchasing decisions. 
- 81% of consumers are influenced by their friends' posts on social media when making purchasing decisions. 
- Facebook and Twitter are the top platforms used by bloggers and the top platforms for generating blog revenue.
- Facebook is the number one platform for mobilizing consumers to be brand advocates.
Tip: marketers need to invest in influencing the feeds of key influencers and bloggers - that's what the consumers are listening to. That's where digital marketing money should be doing its talking.
- When consumers discover products through friends on social media, they act on that information 75% of the time. 
- A brand's social media feed should present offers, but that's just one part of the approach.
Forging partnerships and fostering relationships with key influencers will have consumer's minds made up before they ever see your offer. Plant the seeds even with bloggers of small to moderate influence, and watch the ROI on social media investments skyrocket. http://technoratimedia.com/2013/02/technorati-medias-2013-digital-influence-report/  http://www.marketingpower.com/ResourceLibrary/Documents/Content%20Partner %20Documents/WOMMA/Influencer_Handbook.pdf [PDF]  http://www.thesaleslion.com/comments-social-shares-content-marketing-success/  http://sproutsocial.com/insights/2011/11/social-networks-influence-buying-decisions/  http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2012/05/07/are-brands-wielding-more-influence-insocial- media-than-we-thought/  http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/  http://www.clspectrum.com/articleviewer.aspx?articleid=12733  http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/08/02/blogging-statistics-facts-and-figures-in-2012-infographic/  http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2013/02/06iTunes-Store-Sets-New-Record-with-25-Billion-Songs- Sold.html  http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2271-facebook-product-comments-influence-buying.html