Do Businesses Really Know What They’re Doing With Their Social Media Accounts?
It seems like social commerce reports are the new buses, you wait ages for one to appear before a number of them arrive at the same time. With more and more similar reports coming out about brand engagement and social commerce appearing with contrasting results, it’s becoming harder and harder to gain a clear picture of just how businesses are coping with social media.
Only yesterday, Get Satisfaction reported that only 6 per cent of businesses claim that their online listening activities are central to their organisation. The same report also stated that 98 per cent of the social media companies surveyed were adapting social media at some level.
Now another report from Social Media Marketing Software Site Wildfire has come to light, featuring an ROI survey with over 700 different marketers from across the globe. Their major findings was that 97 per cent of those surveyed believed that social media marketing benefited their business, with 75 per cent intending to increase their spending in this sector in 2012. It’s here that there’s a contradiction, businesses are adamant that social media is vital to their plans, yet a tiny fraction have active engagement with their audience as central to their plans. So who’s right and who’s wrong?
Presence Vs Interaction
First of all, it’s worth bearing in mind that in Wildfire’s report, 85 per cent cited engaging in dialogue as a benefit of social media. But what would happen if you asked the same businesses to define ‘dialogue’? Would they say it’s a conversation between them and customers, where an exchange of ideas and thoughts takes place, or would it be more a case of them posting or tweeting links and company news for their fans and followers to read and maybe like?
The answer would probably fall inbetween the two. We can safely assume that the vast majority of businesses are present on the main social media sites, but realistically, how many of them update it regularly, or post statuses that offer their followers more than company updates?
The answer would be much harder to define, but you could assume that a good number do approach the medium passively. We have to remember that while social media has been around for a while, it’s still a medium that businesses are adjusting to.
There’s too many variables within these reports to determine whether their engagement goes beyond simply appearing in their fans’ news feed (for example, how many posts and what type of posts are made? What percentage of these businesses are small enterprises? How does social media fit in with their advertising strategy? Do they have a dedicated social media or community manager to handle these accounts, etc.). Until somebody compiles a report highlighting how exactly marketers and companies engage with users, this will remain the case.
Still, the fact that companies recognise the value of fans on Facebook is encouraging to say the least, and their valuation of fans does suggest that they feel the benefits are there to be taken, but as Wildfire allude to, strategies need to be in place if a brand is to properly engage with and grow their fan base.