According to the results of GlobalSpec’s annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, not only do 87% of companies anticipate an increase in sales this year, but the majority is planning on using social media to help them achieve their marketing goals in 2011. Download your own copy of the Survey results here.

The survey also reveals that as marketing spending increases, the top eight channels for increased marketing spend in 2011 are all online, and even more interesting, the top three channels are video, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Specifically, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, video and blogs are all seeing increased usage in 2011 over 2010. LinkedIn is the most popular social media application, now used by 69% of companies. 64% of companies are increasing spending on video; and 47% of companies are spending more on online events.

And while these results are really not surprising, because as marketers we realize that the vast majority of our customers and prospects go online first when searching for information, the presence of social media as a top channel may be a little unexpected.

So what does this mean? That after a few recent years of cautious “wait and see”, social media is now being regarded as a legitimate tactic for increasing branding and awareness, promoting thought leadership and interacting with customers and prospects.

But what if your company is not in the majority, and has yet to implement social media? Well, now might be the time to start evaluating these tactics. Although make sure you understand the specific reasons and goals for your own social media strategy. For example, the top reasons industrial companies use social media are branding and lead generation, yet only 3% of companies report that social media is one of their top three sources for leads. So it’s safe to conclude, at least for now, that, increasing brand awareness is the goal most effectively achieved via social media.

If you are considering social media you ought to remember it should never be “instead of” other marketing tactics; it should always be “in addition to” other marketing efforts and integrated with your overall marketing strategy.

You don’t want to take budget, time and resources away from existing marketing efforts that are performing for you and put them toward social media. Although social media tools are free in terms of establishing accounts, there is a learning curve and they do require time and effort. For more information on how to develop your own social media strategy, read GlobalSpec’s white paper, “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector“.

Clearly most industrial marketers are not only online, but now more than ever see the value in social media applications as a way to interact with customers and prospects, increase brand awareness, promote thought leadership, and so much more.

Is your company in the majority when it comes to using social media? What tactics have you found to be most effective? Facebook? Your company blog? Twitter? Share your own experiences, and suggestions here!

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