Do you ever wonder how your fellow marketers and business owners are using social media to grow their business? Whether they are concerned about declining Facebook reach? What platforms and strategies they intend to invest their time in?

Wonder no more. Social Media Examiner has just released its annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report after surveying more than 2,800 marketers.

The one undeniable message from the report is that marketers continue to place high value on social media with 92 percent of marketers (up from 86 percent last year) indicating that social media was important for their business.

The report also revealed a number of shifts in focus, as marketers try to stand out from all the noise to get noticed and get results online.

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Here are six key shifts in thinking that are highlighted by this year's industry report:

1. A return to blogging: When asked how they will change their future social-media activities, blogging topped the charts with 68 percent of marketers planning to increase their efforts. Not since 2010 has blogging been the focus for increased activity for marketers, according to the report.

2. Facebook is losing its shine: The report indicates that we're seeing the beginning of a decline in the use of Facebook by marketers, despite it remaining the most important social network overall. Seven percent of marketers plan to decrease their use of Facebook in 2014, and only 43 percent think their Facebook efforts are effective.

3. B2B vs. B2C requires a shift in focus: The report reveals interesting differences in the focus of B2B and B2C marketers. When it comes to B2C, Facebook dominates (with 68 percent of marketers choosing Facebook as their No. 1 choice of social platform) followed by YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. For B2B marketers, LinkedIn surpassed Facebook as the platform of choice, with blogging and Twitter also playing a more prominent role.

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4. A greater fascination with Google+: Marketers want to learn most about Google+. "While 54 percent of marketers are using Google+, 65 percent want to learn more about it and 61 percent plan on increasing Google+ activities in 2014," the report states.

5. Podcasting is on a growth trajectory: Although only 6 percent of marketers are involved with podcasting, 21 percent plan to increase their podcasting activities this year. This is more than a three-fold increase.

With 28 percent of marketers wanting to learn more about podcasting, this is a major shift in priorities and, according to Social Media Examiner is likely fuelled by:

  • the global adoption of smartphones
  • the introduction of Apple's CarPlay (an in-car system to allow the playing of podcasts via car dashboards)
  • major auto manufacturers integrating dashboards with 3rd party apps.

6. Eyes are now on visual content: When it comes to content, visual assets top the list of content forms that marketers want to learn more about. Sixty-eight percent of marketers want to know about how to create original images and infographics, followed closely by an interest in learning how to produce original videos.

It is becoming harder to reach your ideal audience while they filter out the noise. As indicated in the report, clever marketers are considering a shift in their approach to reach consumers.

Whether this shift is to be flexible in the platforms you focus on, to include more visual content, or to embrace emerging mediums like podcasting, the end result is to provide quality content that catches the attention of consumers and provides them with value.

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