Mark this one on the block of ‘catching up’

A Research Report by Bloom Group LLC, BlissPR, the Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF) and ResearchNow has come out with the key finding below the jump.

Marketing Consulting Services Through Social Media Tools: A 2011 Research Report | The Bloom Group.

The Key Findings

Managers with key roles in the purchase of consulting services are being influenced by social media, although in some unexpected ways. Some 40% said they decided not to use a consulting firm after seeing it criticized in a social media channel that they follow. (See Exhibit 2)

To develop thought leadership content, consulting firms are finding social media such as LinkedIn discussion groups, Twitter discussion threads, and Facebook fan pages provide a good way to quickly and inexpensively gather relevant data. However, most firms still rely almost exclusively on traditional content development techniques such as secondary research, internal meetings, best practice research and quantitative surveys. (See Exhibit 4)

Although social media will account for 16% of the thought leadership marketing budget this year, it is expected to grow quickly and command 26% of the budget by 2013. Offline marketing approaches such as marketing events, print publications, and conference speaking are not going away soon. (See Exhibit 6) The most popular social media marketing tools for consulting firms are pages they created on public social networking sites, Twitter, and discussion groups in public social networks such as LinkedIn. The majority of consulting firms use those social media sites. Consulting firms are largely staying away from creating gated online client communities, as well as presentation-sharing sites, threaded discussion forums, and photo-sharing sites. (See Exhibit 7)

As marketing tools, most social media trail more traditional online and offline marketing channels in generating market awareness and leads. In fact, offline marketing channels (presenting at external conferences, placing consultant-bylined articles in external print publications, and running seminars and other marketing events) remain the three most effective content marketing activities. Only two social media channels finished in the top 10 in terms of marketing effectiveness: microsites and gated online client communities. (See Exhibit 10)

Consulting firms with the most effective thought leadership marketing are far more likely to use social media than the firms with the least effective marketing – especially microsites, videos on YouTube and other video-sharing sites, and comments in LinkedIn discussion groups Facebook fan pages. (See Exhibit 11)