Yes it's true. There is a company in the UK actually called "Useful Social Media." Whether they did this for SEO reasons knowing what search string would be used most by executives searching through the B.S. or that they just couldn't come up with anything more creative upon their launch back in 2009, they do have some interesting, useful, eye-opening data. Thanks to my buddy Michael Brito for sharing his opinion on this information in his social media blog.
While I felt compelled to poke fun at their name, in all seriousness I really do appreciate their high-level approach. They recently released "The state of corporate social media in 2011," result from an extensive survey they conducted with several large corporations who leverage social media at various levels, in various industries, from various parts of the world.
If I had one complaint about this report, it's a little heavy on the inclusion of marketing pull quotes from partners, promo and fluff in the beginning of it but once I got past that, the data they provided accompanied by some fairly insightful observations about said data was sound. On that note, let us dig in and see what they've found.
The survey, the data
The survey is based on responses from over 100 companies and was taken back in December of 2010. I won't include every chart they've created in this blog post but there are some decent high-level nuggets that are worth thinking about.
Here's the breakdown by industry. Having been in tech for such a long time, it's easy for me to forget how much tech is only a small facet of what's going on out in the social media sphere.
As Brito had pointed out in his post, this is one of the more surprising charts to me in some cases. However, this slide also unearths a couple speculations that are not so surprising. I still think established companies struggle with the idea of integrating social into the folds of their business. I also think social media professionals, agencies and specialists have way more learning to do than they are willing to admit which keeps skeptical executives in gun-shy mode. Their only way around that is to explore through 'testing it out' by adding some social media responsibilities to the plate of current employees in PR, marketing, etc.
This next one is interesting. Useful Social Media concludes "...there appears to be a consensus building that there is no need for staff to work exclusively on social media – that it can be integrated into existing roles as a ‘part time’ assignment." They also say "Whilst it’s true that the majority of companies have one or more people working solely on social media, far more of them have significantly larger teams who work part time as social media practitioners." I agree that there's definitely a place for social as a side dish of someone's overall work entree.
The only problem I see for large companies here is that if you don't have at least a few dedicated social media people pulling all of this engagement together from all these 'part timers' into palpable high-level reporting to aid in driving big picture business decisions, the value of their work can be lost and written off as a necessary time sucker taking away from their 'real jobs'. At least that's how some uninformed executives might view it initially if there's not a thoughtful dashboard for them to look at regularly.
The last chart I'll show in this post was very encouraging. The level of direct interaction with social media by VP's, C-levels, and other execs was much higher than I thought it would be. In large companies those folks have traditionally been the hardest nuts to crack as far as social media adoption goes, especially those at companies that are ten or more years old.
In the full report, there's a ton more data, insights, comparisons between the United States and Europe, and even a foreword from Ryan Holmes, the fearless leader of HootSuite. To get the full report, just go here, fill out your information and you'll get an email with a link to download the PDF.
I believe that the balance of people/agencies using social media versus those that use social media in conjunction withbasic business fundamentals is still out of whack but I'm hopeful that the practicality and real business sense will eventually prevail, tipping the scales in the right direction. What say you?