Almost two-thirds of big businesses have at least one full-time employee dedicated to using social media, but only 10% are reporting benefits to the business resulting from the investments.
According to a report by Indian IT services company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) the most mature social media users are producing their own digital content. A total of 81% have corporate blogs, 77% have mobile apps for consumers who use social media and 61% have online video channels.
In its report titled: Mastering Digital Feedback: How the Best Consumer Companies Use Social Media, TCS questioned 655 respondents from mostly consumer-facing companies with average revenue of $15.6bn. The companies in the report came from 11 industry sectors including: banking, consumer packaged goods, retail, technology (consumer software and hardware), media and entertainment, and utilities.
The report revealed the average surveyed company spends $19 million on social media and employs 56 people dedicated to it.
But only 10% of companies surveyed are benefiting from social media.
“Despite ready availability of digitized consumer-to-consumer interactions in social media, its use by companies is today largely limited to being a mechanism for B2C marketing,” said Satya Ramaswamy, global head digital enterprise at TCS.
“Breaking down the organizational silos is key to realizing the full power of social media. In other words, organisations need to be social and share internally to really use the power of social media externally.”
For example, despite social media users basing many purchases on social media comments about goods in services only 27% of R&D/product development and 37% of product management departments regularly view social media comments from consumers.
“This is partly because social media activity is most commonly owned by marketing, customer services and sales,” said Satya Ramaswamy.
The survey found the media and entertainment industry has the highest percentage of companies that have been using social media the longest to engage with consumers.
Top ten things for businesses to consider
TCS said companies should consider the following with regard to using social media:
- Some 38% of consumer companies report a positive return on their social media investments – more than double the number of companies with a negative return on investment (ROI) – but 44% haven’t measured the return.
- Companies with broader benefits from social media are more likely to have a large internal "social circle" with multiple functions working closely together on social media.
- Industries with greater benefits from social media are more likely to sell products and services that consumers are passionate about.
- Leaders at social media go far beyond creating company pages on public social networks; most have blogs, online communities for consumers, mobile apps and company video channels.
- Leveraging social media requires corporate cultures to be more transparent – both externally and internally.
- The best consumer companies at social media on an average spend double of what the worst companies do; but the leaders are nearly four times more likely to get a positive return on their social media investment.
- Only three business functions are actively involved in monitoring what consumers say about their firm through social media: marketing, customer service and sales.
- Other functions that should be actively listening largely are not: R&D and product management.
- Marketing most frequently controls social media, but most companies aren’t satisfied with how these activities are structured.
- Companies are investing fewer resources on social media than they are on big data.