Social media is beginning to make an impact on businesses, and a friend of mine, Michael Gass, shared with me a recent study by SmartBrief that recently surveyed 6,000 of their readers on how they use social media in a business environment.
To effectively use social media for business development, it is important to know who is using social media, how they are using it, what social media channels are being used, what goals are being pursued and tactics deployed that are providing measurable results. The State of Social Media for Business 2010 report, released at the beginning of 2011, provides information on the biggest trends and challenges.
Here are eight select themes and data points from the survey (purchase the full brief for more in-depth details):
- Most companies surveyed have adopted social media in the past 18 months. About half of the companies in the sample have been using social media for only the past year, with nearly 20% starting in the past 13 to 18 months.
- Companies are focusing their energies on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs. The concentration on “the big 5” hints at companies being able to find their customers on these sites. With lower awareness and/or usage of other sites, including platforms such as Flickr with large numbers of users, companies might be missing out on more niche groups.
- It takes time for companies to incorporate social media effectively. More than 25% of companies with two-plus years of social media activity state that those tools and platforms have been fully integrated into their companies’ business models. In addition, more than 50% have a well-developed or fully developed social- media strategy, which is further evidenced by the use of multiple platforms.
- Brand building is currently the primary purpose for business social-media usage. Despite the primary goals of increasing brand awareness and building communities for customers and fans, the majority of companies surveyed use social media to broadcast information instead of creating two-way conversations.
- Communications, advertising and marketing agencies are the leading adopters of social media. Communications and PR agencies recognized the potential behind social media earlier than most industries. Likewise, advertising and marketing firms have realized the potential of identifying and reaching target audiences relatively early as compared with other industries. Despite their early presence in social media, communications and PR firms are not the chosen source of advice or consultation on social media for companies.
- Lack of management support and confidentiality concerns are atop the list of obstacles to social-media adoption. One-third of the respondents note they are not decision makers. Combined with the 14.7% citing management resistance, this indicates an overall lack of management support. In addition, 33.1% cite confidentiality issues as a primary obstacle. Taken together with the prohibition of social-network use at work, the data show that many companies are concerned about how their staff would use these sites.
- Less than 15% of the businesses using social media are measuring return-on-investment. Connecting social media efforts to bottom-line results is a skill that escapes most businesses that are using social media. Over 33% of the businesses in the sample are not measuring return on investment at all. Among those innovators who are measuring social media, most focus on usage and incoming traffic but not traditional business metrics.
- While 60% of respondents say their companies are using social media, there is low confidence in their social-media strategies. Companies are critical of their social-media strategies, with only 14.2% describing their strategies as “very effective” and only 7.3% describing them as “very revenue generating” on average.
These are a few of the report highlights of where businesses are in their social-media usage, confidence and measurement. The full State of Social Media for Business 2010 is available for sale from SmartBrief: http://www.smartbrief.com/research/ and includes:
- 145 pages
- 213 charts and graphs
- 6 data cuts
- Key indicators of social-media integration
- Comparative data based on company size and industry focus
- Benchmarks to assess where your company is on the social-media adoption curve
- An introduction by social-media expert and SmartBrief on Social Media Advisory Board member, Olivier Blanchard