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smartFOCUS survey reveals challenges for social media: 80% of consumers would not share Facebook ID with marketers

smartFOCUS, a global provider of multi-channel marketing software, has released a survey which demonstrates the challenges that lie ahead for marketers as they look to embrace social media marketing in 2011.

Conducted at TFM&A 2011 in March 2011, the survey asked attendees about key marketing channels their business used; how effective their business was at managing profitable customer relationships; the importance of social media marketing to their business; and, as an individual consumer, the personal contact details that they would feel comfortable sharing for marketing purposes.

The survey of 112 attendees discovered that 30% of respondents said that social media marketing was ‘crucial’ to their business in 2011, and a further 55% said it was ‘important’. While businesses may be keen to use social media channels for marketing, 46% of respondents admitted that their business had set up social media initiatives but were not currently using them to maximum effect.

smartFOCUS also investigated the marketing channels used by businesses, asking individuals to rate the importance of different marketing channels to their business. Across respondents, email was ranked the most important marketing channel, followed by the phone, then social media channels, closely followed by direct mail. A number of respondents also highlighted the importance of SEO, affiliate marketing initiatives and events. More than half (51%) of respondents said that email was their company’s most important marketing channel, and a fifth (22%) ranked it as their second most important channel for marketing communication.

When asked how good they thought their own business was at identifying and managing its most profitable customers, almost a quarter (24%) said they thought they were ‘poor’ at this, nearly two-thirds (61%) said their business was ‘good’, and less than a fifth (18%) said they were ‘great’ at identifying and managing profitable customers.

Yet when asked which contact details they would not share as consumers with a third party or a vendor for marketing purposes, the overwhelming majority (80%) said they would not share their Facebook ID.

Curt Bloom, interim CEO for smartFOCUS said: “This survey reflects the changing dynamics of engaging with customers through social media marketing. You can’t rely on reaching people directly through social networks, the strategy has to be based on trust and engagement, and the model of customer advocacy – sharing relevant and compelling offers and content with existing customers, and encouraging or rewarding them to share it across their network. You may not want to share your Facebook ID with a company, but if a close friend sends you something relevant on a social network, you’re going to look at it. In the social network, word of mouth and understanding your social advocates is vital.”

Other details that individuals said they would not want to share for marketing purposes included mobile phone (76%), personal email address (56%), and home phone number (52%). Work email was the most common personal detail people were willing to offer, with only 4% saying they would not share it for marketing purposes.

Curt Bloom concluded: “Email was, unsurprisingly, ranked the most important marketing channel used today by marketers: it’s understood, easy to track and monitor and analyse the results to ensure consistent and relevant communications – and it’s incredibly cost-effective. The opportunities for companies to extend social media marketing are enormous, and I think 2011 will see a lot of change as marketers understand email’s role as the ‘digital foot in the door’ and embrace these opportunities. I was shocked to see that almost a quarter of respondents admitted that they were poor at identifying and managing their most profitable customers – today’s marketing software can go into such detail, that not having these basics in place is unforgivable.”