This IDC Insight evaluates social marketing from two perspectives: the buyer and the vendor. The document begins by focusing on the buyer side to assess how social marketing influences buyers and how they leverage social networks to stay connected. Next, IDC discusses general social marketing investment benchmarks on the vendor side, including operational insights on program spend and staff allocations. An evaluation of top vendor social marketing successes and challenges follows as well as a description of IDC's 2012 Social Marketing Maturity Model. The document ends with a discussion of the future outlook and some essential guidance that will help put marketers on the path to best practitioner status. Clients of IDC's CMO Advisory Service should refer to the Related Research section of this document as well as for additional insight and guidance on increasing the impact and productivity of marketing.