New IBM study highlights low customer interaction by social businesses

Although companies are increasing their social technology investments, middle management leaders are struggling to embrace these capabilities as part of their day-to-day work, a new study from IBM shows.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Organisations want to increase their interaction with customers and partners however a new study released by IBM shows that few companies use social media for customer connection, preferring to use it for promotional purposes.

"Businesses are struggling to make sense of the vast amount of data generated from social networks"

The IBM study focuses on how social business is done in organisations. The Business of Social Business study was created by the Institute of Business value.

Over 1100 responses were collected including interviews with executives to determine how organisations are using social business.

Additionally the Institute held over 26 in depth interviews with some of the ‘widely recognised social business leaders’ to produce the study

The study said that “Executives are concerned because social business represents a different way of thinking about employees, customers and how work is accomplished, as well as the potential risks of increased organizational openness and transparency”.

However “Senior executives expressed a strong desire to use social media tools to understand customers and create experiences that attract and retain them”.

Companies are using social business already:

ibm social business 2
Credit: Institute of Business Value Social Business Study

46 per cent increased their spend in social business in 2012

67 per cent are applying social business within their marketing strategies

54 per cent of PR teams are using social business

“Businesses are struggling to make sense of the vast amount of data generated from social networks, said Kevin Custis, Vice President and Global Leader Social Business and Mobility Services, IBM Global Business Services.

“To transform a vision into a reality, executive leadership must guide middle management on the value of being a social business, and build company-wide support for the use of social practicesacross organizational functions.”

Businesses are looking to improve their reach towards customers and partners, however the study shows that less than half of them actually use social business to interact with customers, partners or vendors.

An even smaller percentage use social business outreach as a way to connect with external talent.

71 per cent of respondents stated that social media was used to promote events and marketing campaigns

51 per cent use social media to generate sales leads and revenue

46 per cent use it to provide product and service support

35 per cent use it to sell products directly to customers

39 per cent use social media to enable customer interaction

28 per cent use it to enable vendor or partner interaction a

24 per cent use social media to leverage external talent such as crowdsourcing

All individuals surveyed intend to increase their use of social media over the next two years. Some areas predict a doubling in companies intending to use of social business for partner interaction and to leverage external talent.

Jeff Schick, VP of Social Software at IBM said:

“IBM sees this idea of social business as being critical.  Social capability drives real business value. You really can achieve the game in terms of leveraging these capabilities and bettering your business outcome”.

With only 39 per cent of social businesses using it for customer interaction, there still seems a heck of a long way to go. Errors will still be made under the watchful gaze of us all.

It might be some time before feel good news on our social channels outweigh the faux pas and social media mistakes that currently fill our feeds.

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