Industry embracing social media

New survey shows companies increasing focus on social sites

Boating industry businesses are increasingly making social media a part of their marketing strategy, the latest Boating Industry reader survey shows.

P14x15-BI14MAY-Research.inddWe surveyed dealers, manufacturers, marina owners, service providers and others via the Internet in March to find out how they are using social media and how important it is to their businesses.

More than a third of respondents said that social media is very important to their marketing strategy in 2014 and 82 percent said it was at least somewhat important. Only 8 percent said it was not important at all.

Facebook leads the way

Just more than 85 percent of respondents said their company is using social media in its marketing efforts. Of that 15 percent that isn’t using social media, many cited their concerns about the time it takes to do it or the return on investment. Most commonly, though, they said they didn’t believe their customers were using social media.

“Our customers are Baby Boomers, not teenagers,” said one respondent. “Our demographic does not seem to be social media users,” wrote another, in comments that were representative of those we received.

P14x15-BI14MAY-Research.inddThat attitude, however, reflects a common misconception of who is on social media. In the Pew Research Center’s most recent study of social media use, released in December 2013, the center found that 73 percent of American adults that use the Internet use at least one social media site regularly, with Facebook being used by 71 percent. By age, 79 percent of those 30 to 49, 60 percent of those 50 to 64 and even 45 percent of those over 65 are using Facebook.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that among marine industry businesses, Facebook is clearly the top choice. Of those companies that reported using social media, 95 percent are using Facebook, well ahead of the 61 percent using YouTube and 52 percent using Twitter.

In some regards, those numbers match up fairly well with those across all small businesses, but there are some significant differences. In a recent VerticalResponse survey, 88 percent of small businesses reported using Facebook and 67 percent said they were using Twitter. Only 35 percent are using YouTube. In that survey, more than 50 percent of respondents reported having a company blog, twice the level of marine industry companies.

Facebook also dwarfs the competition when it comes to impact, with 61 percent of respondents in the Boating Industry survey saying it is the most important social network for their company. YouTube, at 14 percent, was the only one selected by more than 10 percent.

Only 25 percent of companies have a blog, but 8 percent – or more than a third of those who have one – said it was their most important tool. Six percent cited Google+ as their most important social media network and 5 percent selected LinkedIn.

Most notably, although Twitter is used by 52 percent of respondents, only 2 percent said it was the most important outlet for them. As for photo sharing tools Pinterest and Instagram, 20 percent of companies are using them, but not a single respondent chose either as their most important social media.

(Click image to view larger)

(Click image to view larger)

Increasing focus

Forty-four percent of businesses said they plan to increase the time and money they spend on social media this year. While 54 percent said they are not changing the resources they allocate to social efforts, only 2 percent said they are decreasing their social media budget.

That also outpaces the small business results from the VerticalResponse survey, which found that only 24 percent were increasing their social media budgets in 2014, while 13 percent were spending less.

Discover Boating and Hampton Watercraft are two of the industry companies successfully leveraging social media.

Discover Boating and Hampton Watercraft are two of the industry companies successfully leveraging social media.

In the boating industry, the majority of companies are still opting to keep their social media efforts in-house.

Nearly 70 percent of Boating Industry readers reported that they do not use any outside help for their social media. While 25 percent do outsource some, only 6 percent completely outsource their social media.

For most companies, social media is also not taking up a huge amount of time, with 60 percent spending less than five hours a week on it. Twenty-two percent spend five to 10 hours a week on social media, while 9 percent dedicate 11 to 20 hours and 8 percent more than 20 hours a week.


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