Earlier this morning the team at SocialMediaExaminer.com released their annual report on the state of Social Media Marketing. Based on the responses of over 3800 surveyed marketers, the report offers an interesting look at how businesses are using social media to grow and promote their businesses. As with any surveys of this type, you have to remember that the people who responded are already a self selected audience of business owners who care about social media.  So it's not surprising when the survey reports that "94% of respondents indicated they are employing social media for marketing purposes."

Still in reading over the report, there were several conclusions that I took from reading between the lines that I found interesting for anyone who is grappling with the challenge of how to effectively integrate social media into their marketing. 

1. Marketers are overly focused on measurement and not concerned enough with strategy.

In perhaps the most telling section of the report, marketers were asked about the "top 10 social media questions they want answered."  Coming in at #1 was all about measurement. All the way down at a sad #6 was strategy. In a nutshell, this is the reason why so many businesses struggle to describe the value they see from social media. If you focus on how to measure what you're doing without having a good strategy for WHY you're doing it – you've already failed. 

2. The lines between "social" and "non-social" are misunderstood and don't depend on platform.

Late in the report, marketers were also asked about how they will change "non-social marketing" in the future. Search engine optimization, event marketing and webinars were all on the list of "non-social" marketing. One problem with this is that a webinar featuring a live Q&A is inherently more "social" than a Twitter feed used only to blast out messages. The truth is, being "social" with your marketing has little to do with the platform you choose, and more to do with how you choose to use it. 

3. Great writing and video production skills are still undervalued. 

For all the buzz about content marketing, many businesses still undervalue the importance of actually being good at content creation. Not everyone can write or produce compelling video. Today more than ever, there should be a premium for marketers who are gifted writers and producers. The ones who can craft an engaging message in as little as 140 characters. Or do an in depth blog post that will be relevant for more than just a few hours. Simply committing to produce more crap video or hastily written blog posts will no longer be enough. When content is a commodity, quality content is king.

4. "Social" businesses don't do daily deals (or at least they don't admit to it).

Daily deals did not fare well in the survey, as "more than 72% of marketers have no plans to use daily deals." Also reported in the survey was the dismally low number of only 12% of marketers planning increase their use of sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. Marketers who responded to this survey on SocialMediaExaminer.com are typically social media savvy. More than any other result, I think this distaste of daily deals is definitely overstated as plenty of less social media savvy businesses are still actively using these sites to drive sales and exposure. 

5. Platforms still drive interest, but integration should be the ultimate goal.

The survey overall offered a lot of insights into the platforms that marketers were interested in using. For the second year in a row, YouTube/video was the "top area where marketers plan on increasing their efforts." In addition, Google+ and Pinterest were both hot platforms that marketers wanted to learn more about. Almost nowhere in the entire survey did any marketers highlight the challenge or importance of integration across all of these disparate platforms. That is already a huge challenge and one that I believe will continue to grow this year. 

The full report was just published this morning and is now available for FREE download until April 19th at http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2012/