About a week ago Vocus announced the results of its annual PR planning survey, titled Social Media Comes of Age.  Today, we’ve sliced that data exclusively for B2C Insider to look strictly at the data from respondents with a B2C focus.

There were 119 respondents, out of a total of 508 that identified as focusing on the B2C space.  Of these 119, survey takers 56% said they worked in the discipline of public relations, 25% said marketing with the remainder consisting of SEO, advertising and social media professionals. Nearly a third of respondents (29%) said they were executive level professionals, such as a CMO or CEO, while 72% overall said they were a director level or higher. Sixty-one percent reported working for a corporation while the remaining 39% work for an agency.   The data in the charts depicted in this post are based on those 119 respondents and we’ve used different colors in these data charts in an effort to avoid confusion.

B2C Budgets in 2011
Expectations for B2C PR budgets were slightly more optimistic than the surveys overall results.  Forty-eight percent of B2C respondents said they expected budgets to “increase somewhat” or “increase significantly” in 2011 which represents a 6% difference when looking at all the responses, which tallied at 42%.

Sixty-two percent of B2C respondents said PR will be more challenging next year, while 32% said the challenge would be the same and six percent said it would be less challenging.   While signs point positive for PR budgets in B2C circles, the question about challenges next year also underscored budgets as a significant concern in open ended responses to this question.

“Decreased budgets and higher expectations from clients,” wrote one respondent. “Less money, crowded media environment,” said a second. “Expanding business needs to do more with same budget,” penned a third.

Social media a priority for B2C
Eighty-five percent of respondents see social media becoming more important in 2011, or 5% higher than overall survey respondents.  We believe this is because consumer brands are seeing social media efforts having a positive effect on sales.   After experimenting in 2010 and seeing success, consumer brands are will redouble their efforts to drive results in 2011.

Perhaps the most notable campaign of 2010 – and consumer brand experiment that went well – was the Old Spice campaign, which Brandweek reported boosted sales 55% in a three month period.  It’s important to point out that by many measures the Old Spice campaign was an integrated campaign:  it combined advertising with public relations and social media. 

B2C rates itself social media savvy
B2C professionals view their organizations as fairly sophisticated in the use of social media.  Seventy-four percent rate themselves as either “contributing,” “sharing,” or “participating” vice 67% of overall respondents.  Especially noteworthy is that 34% of B2C respondents gave themselves the highest mark, “contributing” as opposed to just 25% of overall respondents giving themselves the same grade. 

As we wrote in the report analyzing the overall results, these responses are a testament that communications professionals and their brands understand the importance of participating, sharing and contributing in the social landscape. Although a smaller percentage of companies seemingly express apathy over participating in social media, most realize that social media is not a spectator sport.   The days of getting cool points for merely being on Twitter are long gone.

Author: Frank Strong is the director of Public Relations for Vocus.  Connect with him on Twitter @Vocus