Thursday, June 14, 2012

The business side of social media.

Most U.S. companies now use social networks. Do they use them well, or just use them? Here's the research.

            A study by InSites Consulting indicates that 66% have a Facebook page, 51% have a Twitter account, and 44% have a Linkedin page. Here's the rub: only 16% say their social marketing efforts are "fully integrated across the organization".

            Most companies are using social media tactically, rather than as a part of a well-orchestrated marketing program.

           Those who are fully integrating it say they are getting results in three important ways. More effective marketing communications; higher consumer satisfaction; and stronger financial returns.

            So, you ask, what does it take? According to the study, three types of changes are needed to integrate social media into the organization. Personal change, structural change, and cultural change.

            Employees have to be open to technology --- and new technologies. The company has to be ready to educate employees in social media, have social media training programs, and the top execs have to be active in social media themselves.

           Companies  have to have a clear view of how to use social media. They have to include them in the media plans and understand how to use them. And what not to do, as well. Companies should encourage their people to freely use social media personally, to get involved in it.

           At the same time, a company's values have to be clearly defined, and they have to be as important as the business strategy. Everyone has to understand these values, to speak with a unified voice.

           Now you understand why so few companies have fully integrated social marketing. They don't really know how to use it. Social marketing isn't advertising, and it isn't public relations, and only sometimes it's sales promotion. And financial return can be kind of murky if you don't know how to measure it.

           There. Now I've got to check my Linkedin profile.

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