50% of Companies Entering Social Media Have No Plan

Post first and ask questions later.

Recent reports from Digital Brand Expressions (DBE) and R2integrated (R2i) indicate that companies are diving in to social media without a plan. While both reports draw this conclusion, each provides complementary findings that flesh out the statistics in interesting ways.

According to the R2i study, while a majority of marketing professionals and company decision makers view social media as essential to their business, most have not made any money using it. However, the R2i study makes a compelling case for a social media strategy. It compared the 35% of companies that reported increased revenue or profit using social media with the companies that did not report a growth outcome. Those benefiting were:

About twice as likely to have a formal social media strategy

Almost twice as likely to have a dedicated headcount for managing social media

About twice as likely to rate themselves as “proficient” or “expert”

Almost three times as likely to have read a book on social media

“The data we’ve compiled suggests that marketers clearly recognize the need for, and see the potential of, social media, but are still trying to develop models that increase real engagement which then leads to profitability – if that’s a goal for implementing a social strategy,” said Matt Goddard, CEO, R2i. “Despite the presence and popularity of social media, many companies remain relatively unfamiliar with its practices, pundits, and principles.”

Some interesting highlights from the DBE report include:

Of the firms reporting that they have no plan in place for social media, DBE found 88% agree it is important to have such a plan, suggesting perhaps the lack of a cohesive planning process is preventing the company from moving forward to adopt strategies for the social channel.

Of those companies that work from some plan, 94% say that marketing activities are included in the plan and 71% say that the Marketing Department is the group with the primary responsibility for creating and maintaining the firm’s social media presence.

Seventy-one percent of respondents with a plan (71%) indicate they use social media for public relations communications, and 55% say that they use social media for sales-related activities. Only 16% say their human resources team is using social media for recruiting, employee retention, training and development, etc. Just 26% use it for customer service.

Of those companies that don’t have a strategic plan but think it is important to create one, the number one activity rated as important to include in a social media plan is allocating resources for ongoing activities.

Veronica Fielding, President & CEO of Digital Brand Expressions observed, “I can’t say that I’m surprised by the findings of our 2010 research study on corporate social media adoption.”

The DBE report concludes that companies that have held back on adopting social media throughout their organizations would benefit from starting with a cohesive plan that involves all the key groups within the organization. Organizations that are already communicating in the social channel would benefit from making sure all employees are apprised of the firm’s social media communications policies and that department-specific protocols are in place to empower employees to communicate with confidence and to elevate conversations to the proper authorities within their organizations if the need arises.

Taken together, the two reports contribute additional insights on objectives for social media activities, self-assessments of social media marketing capabilities, perceptions of social media as a discipline and actual versus ideal distribution of responsibilities for company social media activities throughout the company.