Live events beat social media for content marketing: Survey

conference live events

Australian marketing experts say in-person events are a more effective form of content marketing than social media and LinkedIn delivers better results than Facebook, according to a survey released today.

The survey, conducted between July and August by the Content Marketing Institute and the Association for Data-driven Marketing and sponsored by Brightcove, asked 251 marketing agencies in Australia about their use of content marketing. For most questions, respondents were allowed to choose multiple answers.

The survey found social content is the most common form of content marketing, with 86% of marketers using it. This is followed by articles on websites (which are used by 85% of agencies), eNewsletters (83%), events (74%), case studies (72%), videos (72%), blogs (68%), photos (68%), infographics (61%), microsites (54%), online presentations (47%) and research reports (45%).

However, in-person events are rated the most effective tactic by 65% of marketers, ahead of social media, which is recommended by just 53%.

Craig Reardon, founder of online marketing and web design firm The E Team, told SmartCompany traditional content marketing techniques such as in-person events and the effective use of social media are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

“For most businesses, you’ll need to have a mix of traditional and digital techniques – and that mix will be different for every business,” Reardon says.

“Live events can be really effective as a form of content marketing. But it is more effective if you leverage digital techniques – like webcasting, webinars or social media – off your live events. Then you get the maximum out of both.”

In terms of where marketers invest their dollars, the survey found most marketers (68%) favour search engine marketing (SEM), ahead of social media advertising, print or offline ads, banner ads, promoted social media posts and native advertising.

Search engine marketing is also rated as the most effective place to spend marketing dollars, beating out other forms of content.

But According to Reardon, it’s important to distinguish between paid social media advertising and posting content to popular social media websites.

“It breaks up into social media advertising on sites such as Facebook, which costs money and gives you amazing audience targeting, and regularly posting content on social media sites, which costs time,” he says.

“So paid social media to free social media is not an apples-to-apples comparison, and again the balance will vary from business to business.”

The survey also revealed the most popular social media platform for marketers is now LinkedIn, which is used by 83% of marketers. It beats out a range of rivals including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram. LinkedIn is also rated as the most effective platform, recommended by 57% of marketers.

Similar results were revealed in SmartCompany’s recent SME Directions Survey, sponsored by SME accounting and financial services firm Crowe Horwath, with 41% of SMEs nominating LinkedIn as the most effective social media platform for marketing their business.

Reardon says the popularity of LinkedIn for content marketing is not surprising.

“I think for B2B (business-to-business) content, LinkedIn is absolutely brilliant. With groups you can broadcast your message to thousands. But if you’re selling to small businesses or consumers, Facebook is by far the better option,” he says.

According to Reardon, there is one other important step small businesses can take to make the most of their content marketing efforts.

“For small businesses, it is important to coordinate through one person who is agnostic across the techniques they use,” he says.

“The problem is many go to four or five experts across for or five areas, and each wants you to spend your ad dollar with them.”

“But in terms of ROI (return on investment), content marketing is brilliant – it’s the lowest cost-effective means of promoting your business.”

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