Social Media is Broken and HBRs Report Proves It

2,100 firms participated in a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, said they are either currently using social media channels or have a future social media deployment occurring. However, many still say social media is an experiment, as they try to understand how to best use the different channels, gauge their effectiveness, and integrate social media into their strategy.

Despite the vast potential social media brings, many firms seem focused on social media
activity primarily as a one-way broadcast channel, and have yet to engage, listen or analyse customer conversations and turn feedback into insights that impact the bottom line.

Clearly, most companies are still searching for the best practices and metrics so they can understand
where to invest and target their social media activities and build their own competitive
advantage.

Google’s Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik, says “Too many companies have not evolved from what I call ‘shout marketing’ — think TV, newspapers, magazine ads — to influence by initiating and participating in conversations with consumers,” he said. “There needs to be a generational shift”.

The highlights of the report follow below:

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Graphic: Business Insider

Although 79% of the 2,100 companies surveyed are either using or planning to use social media channels, only 12% of surveyed firms feel that they are using them effectively. These were the companies most likely to deploy multiple channels, use metrics, have a strategy for social media use, and integrate their social media into their overall marketing operations. The “smart firms” are using social more often to promote their brand, monitor trends among customers, and even research new product ideas.  They don’t broadcast and spam, they engage!

 

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Graphic: Business Insider

Two-thirds of surveyed firms have no formal social media strategy, and just 7% have social media into their overall marketing strategy. This is scary, and does show that some firms are still not serious about social. Even though 69% stated that their use of social media will grow, 61% admitted that they need to overcome a “learning curve” before adopting any kind of social media strategy. Sadly, 32% view it as a VP level priority – and nearly one in ten of the executives surveyed dismissed the business use of social media as a passing fad.

 

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Graphic: Business Insider

Linking social media efforts to ROI, and understanding how it can bring competitive advantages still seem to be a challenge for many firms.

 

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Graphic: Business Insider

Just 12% of the companies surveyed have hired dedicated employees to social media activities. Instead, social is mostly delegated to external agencies. “At the C-Suite level, they don’t want to talk about social media because they don’t understand it,” one executive admitted.

 

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Graphic: Business Insider

Social is still seen as an experimentation.

As one executive put it, “Social media is a big ocean and we are pulling in a little bay where we are most protected.” The majority of these efforts (50%) are geared towards increasing awareness of the organisation or brand.

 

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Graphic: Business Insider

The best firms understand that social is a conversation, not a broadcast monologue . Successful social media deployments examples include firms creating online customer groups and monitoring trends. They are twice as likely to use social media to poll their community and research new products.

Read Harvard’s complete report below.

Author: Jas

Jas Dhaliwal is a highly experienced International Social Media Strategist. Currently working as AVG Technologies, Director of Communities and Online Engagement, he specialises in building and engaging with social communities across the web. Born and bred in London, he is passionate about technology and social anthropology. Prior to AVG, Jas launched the social media program for Microsoft’s MVP Award program. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and has an MBA from Brunel University in London, England. You can follow Jas as @Jas on Twitter or on Google+

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