I was going to review this social media survey in less than 500 words (the original report is 43 pages) but I found the revelations compelling so it ended up being over 1,000 words. It shows that companies are taking different approaches both bold and conservative. It also unveiled the fact that most companies are not ignoring social media but implementing it in ways that fits their culture and processes, whether that be taking a long term approach or short term.
Mounting research, including the fact that 46% of US adults now participate in social networks, and a quarter do so weekly, make it increasingly difficult to pigeon-hole social media as something relevant to only specific demographic groups or personal vs. work lives. Social media is here to stay, and marketers need all the help they can get understanding this new communication channel.
Business.com’s 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study assessed current trends in the use of social media in North American businesses. It is based on 2,948 valid responses to a Social Media Benchmarking Survey during August and early September, 2009,
The study was focused on social media utilization – how people and companies are using social media in a work context today – and not on adoption. All study participants currently used social media in their day-to-day jobs as a resource for business-relevant information and/or worked for a company currently managing, developing or planning social media initiatives.
The report was organized into two sections. Section one is about how social media is utilised to find business relevant information and section two are the initiatives, benchmarking experience with social media for business, top social media activities and how companies judge social media success today.
Section One: Finding Business Relevant Information
Top Line Findings
- Nearly 65% of respondents reported using using social media as part of their normal work routine to find business relevant information such as
- Reading blogs
- Visiting business profiles on Facebook
- Viewing professional profiles on LinkedIn
- Using Twitter to find or communicate
- Who uses Social Media as a resource for business information?
The Top Five by Job Role
- PR/Corporate Communications
- Construction/Real Estate
- Accounting Finance
Interesting findings that aren’t expected
- IT used social media as a business resource less than any other department
- Micro Companies (less than 10 employees were more disposed to use social media than the large (500+ employees) who ranked last.. maybe due to banning or blocking of social media sites by large companies.
- Real Estate and construction were the most active users above those from other industries.. this is worth asking.. why?
- Most popular Social Media resources were
- Webinars/Podcasts at 69%
- Reading ratings and and reviews 62%
- Least Popular
- Social Bookmarking sites 28%
- Participating in dicussions on 3rd party websites 29%
- Average respondent used nearly six different social media resources
- 14.4 % used ten or more
Section Two: This covered
- Corporate Social Media Initiatives
- Benchmarking experience with social media for business
- Top social media activities
- How companies judge social media success today.
Top Line Findings
- The vast majority (92%) are directly involved in planning or managing these initiatives
- They spend, on average, 18% of their time in a given week on business social media activities
- 35% of people surveyed had spent less than one year managing or involved with social media initiatives
- 30% of employees having between one and two years of direct experience
- 71% of companies have less than two years of experience with social media initiatives
- Top ten social media initiatives (all at or above 50% participation)
- Maintenance of company social media sites 71%
- Monitor company related mentions on social media sites 60%
- Maintain one or more company blogs 60%
- Participate in micro-blogging (Twitter) 56%
- Monitor and or support company ratings or reviews 54%
- Monitor competitor mentions on social media sites 53%
- Participation in discussions on 3rd party sites 51%
- Advertise on social media sites 50%
- Manange an online community for customers or prospects 50%
- Participate in online Q&A sessions on 3rd party sites such as Yahoo answers or Linkedin 50%
- Companies are planning, having in development or running on average seven social media initiatives
Interesting Findings that were unexpected.
1. How Companies Judge Social Media Success
- Website traffic increase 61%
- Engagement with prospects 57%
- Brand awareness 54%
- Engagement with customers 50%
- Revenue 42%
- Brand reputation 42%
- Prospect lead volume 36%
- Prospect lead quality 33%
- Useful product feedback 23%
Note: I was surprised by this as an element of ROI (Revenue) took fifth place after what I would call non-financial impacts being viewed as sufficiently important to take precedence over short term financial gains. I was expecting ROI to be taking a top spot.
2. What are the Top Social Media Sites That Companies Participate In?
- Facebook 80%
- Twitter 56%
- LinkedIn 39%
- LinkedIn Companies 38%
- YouTube 35%
Note: Facebook continues to take the prominent role in Social Media ( I suppose 300 Million people can’t be wrong)
3. Social Media Monitoring Tools
Companies can use a wide variety of tools to monitor company, brand and/or competitor mentions across blogs and other social media sites. Free Tools are dominant in social media business use and are used much more broadly then fee-based tools.. and the difference is striking.
- Google Search 61%
- Google Alerts 49%
- Twitter Search 44%
- Yahoo! Search 35%,
- Factiva 3%
- Nielsen BuzzMetrics 3%
- BuzzLogic 2%
- Biz360 2%
- Radian 6 2%
Note: Free wins over fee.. not unusual I suppose
3 Top Revelations
1. The average company in this study used four different success metrics
- Web site traffic
- Engagement – with prospects and customers
- Brand impact – awareness and reputation
- Leads – both quantity and quality
Note: Companies measuring leads are more likely to also measure the revenue impact of social media initiatives than companies which don’t focus on leads. Also, companies judging the success of their social media initiatives on engagement with prospects and/or customers are more likely to also measure brand impact than they are revenue or leads.
This reveals two types of mindsets
- Those wanting to measure and verify ROI
- Companies who are taking a longer term view and at this stage are willing to accept that the pre-cursors to achieving a financial impact will reveal a long term positive ROI.
2. Top Social Media Sites To Which Companies Upload
- YouTube 64%
- Flickr 26%
- Slideshare 12%
- Photobucket 12%
- GoogleKnol (Googles version of Wikipedia) 11%
Note: YouTube’s dominance is due in part to the growing value of online video as a valuable social media content asset and the emerging importance of video as Gen Y takes an emerging and growing role in managment.
3. Social Media Banning at Work
- 54% of companies ban two of the most popular social media sites for business Facebook and Twitter
- 10% of the 1,400 CIOs surveyed indicated that they give employees full access to social networks at work.
Note: This knee-jerk concern about squandering work time on personal issues has been seen many times before (telephones, cell phones, Internet, e-mail, etc.) and establishing the business value in social media can help companies placing themselves in the position of attempting to understand and utilize this new communication channel without the ability to actually use it at work.
Comments From Survey
Three revealing comments from the survey:
Comment One “The most useful social media resource is the webinars. I feel that they offer the most, don’t demand that I travel, spend a lot of money, or even make a huge commitment of time. They are usually well focused on a topic and therefore don’t waste my time with a lot of unrelated topics.”
Comment Two “Twitter. The people I follow provide me with more relevant links and information than any other tool. It saves me time and helps me learn about new technologies or innovative ideas, as they are happening.” also
Comment Three “The power of combining social media resources (i.e., the social connection provided by social media) – discovering something interesting on Twitter, following it to a blog you haven’t seen before, and then subscribing to the blog – as well as the ability to interact with others about the topic on Twitter and in blog comments.”
So do your companies activities reflect a similiar pattern to the surveys findings?