As the value of Twitter soars on Wall Street, I found myself wanting a snapshot of where social media stands right now.
Broadly speaking, how are companies using social media? Is it mainly just for marketing? What kind of impact do businesses really feel it is having? What kind of budgets are being expended on it? What kind of internal structures have grown up around it?
And so I started hunting. I came up with “The State of Corporate Social Media 2013,” developed by Useful Social Media and sponsored by Unmetric. The study is based on the comments of 850 respondents responsible for operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South and Central America. Respondents were largely from corporations. It answered most of my questions.
It concluded, as I do, that social is undeniably and fundamentally changing how business does business. It’s also improving results. The authors predict that business will move away from social media and towards social business and all that it might entail. But I feel safe in predicting that social will definitely be the province of any forward-looking enterprise.
The study offers valuable measurements for any business interested in seeing where they stand among their peers:
- The most popular structure is the “hub and spoke” model, with a core coordinator and two to four “spokes” who are embedded in various departments and execute the strategies. But 92.5% of the companies had at least one fully socially dedicated person.
- Who owns social? Probably the most controversial question of them all. The study concludes that the expertise still largely resides in marketing, but “the dictatorship is weakening.” The “spread-out” is happening.
- The surprising figure is that 18% of social media experts now report directly to the CEO, up from 14% in 2012, indicating that social goals and strategies are gaining traction in the boardroom. Yet 55% are not confident that their CEO is convinced of social’s value.
- 61% of businesses feel social is having a positive impact on internal structures (e.g., teamwork, collaboration, workflow and breaking down silos) that enhance productivity.
- Using social for “customer centricity” is increasing. Half of B2C companies use social for customer service, while only 36% of B2B companies do. Fifty-six percent of respondents are using it to gain more clarity about who their customers are, where they are and what they like–in other words, customer insights.
- Half use social for communications, crisis communications, reputation preservation and employee engagement
- As for the networks or platforms companies are using, the most used are, in order: Facebook (89%), Twitter (88%), LinkedIn (78%), YouTube (71%), and corporate blogging (51%). Facebook is first for the B2C sector and LinkedIn is first for B2B.
- Sixty percent of the companies surveyed had less than $10,000 to spend on social media, with another 27% were working on a budget of less than $100,000. B2Cs still outstrip their B2B cousins on money spent. Budgets may be somewhat down next year because so many purchases were made in-house in 2013.
Metrics for social media are still fairly simplistic, mainly based on visits or web traffic, followers and likes. The study contends that what is required is more “complex, qualified metrics — which are far better equipped to give companies detailed insight on their progress and activity.” Only 44% even attempt to measure ROI.
On a more optimistic note: 46% are confident that social drives sales for their businesses!!!