For the research I did for my dissertation, Media Consultants, Authors or Advisors were selected as “Social Media Experts” to be asked for their opinions around many topics.
Many companies are investing millions on Social Media right now, sometimes without a clear understanding of how to measure the return of that investment
According to the experts’ opinions obtained by questionnaires and interviews, between 25% and 75% companies use Social Media. The size and type of organisation (small, medium or large, Fortune 500, non-profit, one-person company, from heavily regulated sectors, etc.) are not indicative of the use of Social Media and examples of good practice can be found everywhere, as some experts highlighted.
1. Percentage of the companies that are using Social Media
Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the chasm” model of technology adoption explains the gap between the early adopters market, dominated by some visionaries and the mainstream market dominated by a large block of companies who are pragmatists in orientation.
Therefore, based on the experts’ opinions, it can be said that Social Media is still being in the early adopter phase, having few examples of companies that just moved across the chasm towards mainstream market adoption.
In fact, only 12% of the companies interviewed by Harvard Business Review expressed they felt they were currently effective users of Social Media and they were most likely to have a Social Strategy and integrate it into their global marketing operations. This number demonstrates the Moore’s Crossing the Chasm theory as early adopters represent a very small percentage of the population.
Lon Safko, when he was interviewed, explained the implications of the lack of strategy saying, “If you don’t have a strategy, if you don’t know why you’re using a particular tool, you run the risk first of all of causing yourself damage.”
The reasons for adopting Social Media are many, but the majority of the writers and consultants agreed that most of the companies are adopting Social Media because they are following a trend or trying to create a competitive advantage.
2. Summary of the reasons to adopt Social Media
The opinions that were grouped under “Advantage” are the ones that show that Social Media is helping business to go further: creating a competitive advantage, following competitors, generating revenue or leading generation, getting new customers and engaging with them.
Those who are following a Trend not only desire to be there because everybody is adopting social media, but also fear not doing it. They need to be there to be perceived as good and also to avoid the uncertainty and doubt of traditional media.
With “Improve” I grouped the opinions that I consider show businesses that want to improve what they are doing right now, like giving better customer service, brand awareness and wanting to use Social Media as a new communication channel.
The last category, Economic, gathers issues that I thought it could be important in order to adopt Social Media in an economic crisis, with changes in the market and economic cuts. However, experts expressed that these are not the most important reasons for getting involved in Social.
According to the experts, the reasons why organisations want to contact their communities are not very different from the ones to use Social Media.
On the one hand, branding, prospects conversion and communication channels are the main objectives for being in contact with their community. On the other hand, most companies are not taking advantage of the community to innovate and carry out market research.
“Consumers take control of your brand; and if done right this is a beautiful thing.” Erik Qualman, Author of Socialnomics
3. Companies’ objectives to contact their communities
Julius Duncan, when he was interviewed explained the urgency to adopt it saying “social needs to be integrated, needs to be used now and needs to be taken on board to get an advantage or to make sure they are not losing out an opportunity that their competitors could’ve picked up”.
In summary, companies are using Social Media mainly because they want to create a competitive advantage that allows them to differentiate from their competitors, however, trend plays an important role in the decision to adopt it.
This is just an example of the conclusions I arrived based on the findings and analysis of my dissertation. You can download them from SlideShare.