The results of a new study from SmartBrief about social media use by business are in. As studies go, you will need to dig a little into the data -- and think about what it means -- to get value out of the information.
According to SmartBrief, the responses from more than 6,000 business people uncovered eight themes:
(1.) Most companies surveyed have adopted social media in the past 18 months.
That is the reason why they subscribe to SmartBrief in the first place, they are thinking about social and how they can utilize it to market their business. After sitting on the sidelines waiting for this thing to blow over, many organizations are jumping in.
(2.) Companies are focusing their energies on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.
Not surprisingly, the tools that are talked about the most, are the ones used the most. I don't have a copy of the study, just the advance promotional teaser. However, the study seems to also say that most strategies are developed in house. We just discussed how much of the free advice revolves around generic topics and mainstream tools.
I cannot help thinking also about mass marketing mindset -- those are the platforms with large numbers of people using them.
(3.) It takes time for companies to incorporate social media effectively.
It does, indeed. And even the organizations willing to wait to get results eventually get itchy. It used to happen with print ads and other marketing messaging -- companies changed them because they were sick of them, and those times coincided with when people started liking or recognizing the messaging.
(4.) Brand building is currently the primary purpose for business social-media usage.
Pay attention to this data point because a few lines later, there is a statistic around ROI that contradicts this goal. Is awareness the primary goal, then or is it other business outcomes? This matters when we look at themes 7 & 8. What they both say is, the 15% who do set metrics and tie goals to objectives are satisfied (the 14.2% in number 8).
And, 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.
(5.) 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. Instead, the majority of companies are using internal resources for developing and implementing their social-media strategies.
(6.) 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.
(7.) Fewer than 15% of the businesses using social media are measuring return-on-investment.
Among those innovators who are measuring social media, most focus on usage and incoming traffic but not traditional business metrics. And I would add that often separate efforts within the same organization are not connected with each other.
Thus resulting in questions like who owns social? What is the process for accomplishing xyz? How are we going to sustain demands on time and resources? And so on.
(8.) While 60% of respondents say their companies are using social media, there is low confidence in their social-media strategies.
Only 14.2% of businesses find their social-media strategies to be “very effective” – and only 7.3% consider them “very revenue generating.” Dare I say these 14% or so are the same who establish goals and metrics and then measure against them?
What about you and your organization? What is holding you back? Do you see some of the same challenges reflected in this study?