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Survey Reveals Who Is Running the Social Media Show

follow-twitterI thought I knew who was in charge of Social Media in corporations until I came across this survey conducted by ipressroom.com with support by the PRSA which interviewed 278 public relations, marketing and human resources professionals to identify trends regarding their approach to social media. The breakdown of the companies surveyed by revenue was as follows

  • 14% of the companies had revenue in excess of $1 Billion,  
  • 5% had revenues between $500 Million and $1 Billion 
  • 36% with revenues from $5 Million to $500 Million
  • 45% with revenues under $5 Million

The survey asked a variety of questions including the following.

  1. Which online communications channels are most important?
  2. Which ones should organizations deploy first?
  3. Which channels are critical for employees to learn to use to do their jobs effectively in a networked world?

So what were six insights from this survey and who really is running the “Social Media Show” ? 

Insight One: Social Media Is Prioritized and Utilized More Than  Managing the Company’s  Website Content…  despite the fact that an annual survey in 20 countries of 4,475 Opinion leaders called the “Edelman Trust Barometer,” revealed a company’s own website is seen as more credible than business blogs, personal blogs, social networking sites and advertising…… “Most organizations deem it more important to utilise social networks and micro-blogging services than devote more time to managing and updating content on their website”.

Note: Is this because “Social Media” is seen as trendy and new? 

Insight Two: Ease of Use Drives Adoption.. therefore not surprisingly, micro-blogging has grown slightly bigger than blogging, 62% versus 59%, demonstrating that lowering the barrier to entry — the “140-character news cycle” as Shel Holtz puts it — drives social media adoption by making it easier for people to participate.

 Insight Three: Small to medium-sized enterprises lead the way in Social Networking and Twitter.  Small to medium-sized enterprises are significantly ahead of larger organizations when it comes to adopting Twitter (64% versus 47%) and social networking (74% adoption versus 38%) but not in blogging which is now squarely in the large organization’s repertoire. But larger organizations are managing the content on their web sites more actively than small to medium-sized enterprises. 

Insight Four:  Public Relations is leading the social media revolution inside organizations of all types and sizes

  • PR leads marketing in the management of all social media communications channels. Marketing leads PR in managing only email marketing and SEO.
  • In 51% of organizations, PR lead digital communications compared to 40.5% by marketing.
  • PR is responsible for blogging at 49% of all organizations. Marketing is responsible for blogging at 22% of all organizations.
  • PR is responsible for social networking at 48% of all organizations. Marketing is responsible for social networking at 27% of all organizations.
  • PR is responsible for micro-blogging at 52% of all organizations. Marketing is responsible for micro-blogging at 22% of all organizations.

Note: So there you have it Public Relations Professionals, you are running the Social Media Show… in most cases. 

Insight Five:  Among those responsible for hiring PR and marketing employees which Digital Skills were seen as most important and how did they rank?

A: Companies With Turnover Under $1B

  1. Social Networking
  2. Blogging
  3. Micro-Blogging
  4. SEO
  5. Email Marketing
  6. Web Content Management
  7. Social Bookmarking

B: Companies With Sales Over $1B

  1. Blogging
  2. Social Networking
  3. Micro-Blogging
  4. Web Content Management
  5. SEO
  6. Email Marketing
  7. Social Bookmarking

Note: So if you want a job in PR or Marketing it seems some experience with Social Media wouldn’t go astray

Insight Six: Social Media is growing in importance as a communications approach…with the majority of organizations considering hiring a specialist. This demonstrates that social media is no longer just something to do in your spare time, but rather a core discipline to be maintained by a dedicated resource.

  • 26% are definitely interested in hiring dedicated resources to maintain some degree of social media engagement, while
  • 48% of all organizations are considering adding dedicated staff that specialize in this area.
  • Interest in adding dedicated social media specialists to the workforce is markedly higher among organizations with $1bn+ in annual revenue (43%) that it is at small to medium-sized enterprises (23%).

So there we have it, The 2009 Digital Readiness Report, a study conducted by iPressroom and PRSA, found that public relations professionals are firmly in the lead when it comes to managing an organization’s use of social media communications channels. And you thought it was going to be the marketing department didn’t you.

So who should be in charge of Social Media? Like to hear your thoughts

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Great post!
    As a marketer by training, I believe that the strategy of social media and how it fits into the brand positioning and mission should be led by the brand champion/marketer with input and collaboration with PR and others–but the design and implementation of social media strategies and tactics may be better led by ‘knowledgeable’PR folk (also with input and collaboration from mktg folk)…but probably most important determining factor aught to be that social media should be led by those that understand and desire two- way dialog and community? 🙂
    You’ve raised an interesting question for me (and a future blog linked to yours) of what is the job of a Marketer today?

  • agathakubalski

    Really interesting insights here!
    I often see social media fitting a little more naturally under PR (at least at first) because public relations as a practice tends to be more used to speaking to audiences in a less commercial/promotional way. We’re already in the mindframe of: we need to speak to these audiences in a relevant way, and it can’t be an advertisement. I see that as being one reason why PR tends to lead social media efforts.

    However, these initiatives should definitely be executed in the context of the overall marketing strategy, not exist in a silo under “PR.”

  • Jeff- Very interesting post. I would caution the conclusion considering it was santioned by ipressroom and PRSA…hardly unbiased.

    I also certainly see Agatha’s point above…this is in essence PR’s forte….non commercial story telling. It’s what they do best!

    It’s also interesting to point out that in most large companies, there is also an “eCommerce” or “.com” team that is also a significant player.

    One last thought that may derail everyone: Isn’t PR a function of the 4th “P” of marketing called “Promotion”?

  • Great job! Thank you very much. From Sevilla, Spain.

  • As usual another great post by Jeff. Thanks!!!

  • Interesting read. As far as insight one goes I definitely have to think that it is because social media is the new “trendy” thing right now, which is why there is such a heavy emphasis placed on it. Not that it isn’t important and a good business practice, but I have seen many small businesses who let their company website fall to wayside because they focus so heavily on their Facebook. Not a good practice there at all. Balance is key!

  • Great article! Must share it. 😉 Thank!

  • It would be interesting to see updated data for 2011. I can only imagine that more and more companies are utilizing twitter and facebook and even dedicating a full time person to them.

  • My small business fits into 45% bracket, all though I’m not that surprised that small businesses make up the majority. I know that if someone would have asked me 3 years ago how important I felt Facebook marketing was vs radio advertising, etc. I would have laughed.

    We see some excellent results on my business Facebook Page, not so much on the Twitter account because my demo seems to be confused by Twitter. I do see Twitter being more useful and my demo getting more involved as time goes on.

    Excellent information Jeff.

  • EXCELLENT!! Thanks. Sorry, I don’t usually just say that, but wanted you to know I wasn’t a lurker saying nothing about solid research and even more solid presentation.

  • i think social media blurs the line between PR and marketing- and this is good