Today Econsultancy published its new State of Social Report 2011. It make interesting reading. Thanks to Econsultancy I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview and was able to provide some comments on its findings. I’ve published my comments at the end of this report, but if you’re responsible for any aspect of social media strategy or management then I’d recommend you head over to the Econsultancy site and buy a copy, it’s only £250 or you can join for £295 and get access to all of Econsultancy’s reports.
There are further signs in this State of Social report that the business is maturing, but still isn’t there yet. It finds that 64% of respondents have moved ‘beyond the experimental phase’, but that still leaves a lot who haven’t started or are still experimenting.
Probably one of the most alarming statistics for me is that 60% of organisations have not yet implemented internal social media training and governance models. Given the numbers that claim to be be using social media this is a very dangerous approach that has serious reputational and legal risks.
In 2008 the Consumer Protection Regulations were introduce, this year the ASA added social media to the Code of Advertising Practice and the CIPR updated its social media guidelines. These are just some of the legal and regulatory issues that companies need to include in their social media guidelines.
Then you’ve got recent legal cases such as Crisp v Apple which highlight how essential it is to have effective social media policies in place. And for most companies it’s not just one policy. You need one for all employees that helps them understand what they can and can’t do and helps them to be able to do it. Lack of knowledge and education about how to use social media safely and effectively is probably the main reason why things go wrong and issues turn into crises. You also need a more detailed one for use by employees who are using social media officially on behalf of the company. This includes any PR, digital or advertising agencies that involved in social media on your behalf.
Another section that caught my attention was the question about ROI and the number of companies that aren’t or can’t measure social media ROI. Not surprising in my opinion as if you’re trying to measure social media ROI then you’re measuring and evaluating the wrong thing. The best way to measure social media ROI is to measure the ROI of everything else â€“ your advertising, answering the phone, people chatting in the pub etc â€“ and what’s left is the ROI from social media! As I said in my quote in the report it’s a reflection of the immaturity of social media in business that the question is even being asked. The same scrutiny isn’t put on things that ‘have always been done’ as if it was then you’d discover it is just as hard to measure the ROI of them. The other culprit is PR agencies and digital agencies who go in and deliberately mislead clients about what ROI is and how they can measure it.
This year’s report found that 70% of respondents say social media is owned by marketing department. One issue I had with this question is that it didn’t give an option for public relations or corporate communications, which would have potentially changed the results. There is also the issue of how representative is Econsultancy’s audience, which might go some way to explain the far higher proportion of marketing than you’d expect.
The predominance of marketing might also explain some of the other more worrying aspects of the report, such as the lack of proper social media governance as marketing tends to take a more myopic view than do corporate communications or legal who both have far more holistic business wide responsibilities and visions.
One question I’d like to explore a lot more is ‘How interested in social media is your organisation’s most senior management (c-level executives)?’ The fact that 15% are ‘more interested than in other marketing issues’ and 26% are ‘very interested indeed’ is a welcome sign that c-suite and board level directors recognise that social media goes far beyond just marketing. However, it’s also interesting to note that the response amongst agencies for ‘very interested indeed’ is just 8%. Does this indicate that agencies and c-suite are thinking and talking about social media in different ways. The focus for agencies is on marketing and sales â€“ and how they can make money out of clients from it â€“ and the focus for clients is broader across the whole business operation.
Michelle Goodall makes an important point when she says ‘If customers and stakeholders choose to engage with you in their chosen channel about a product/service issue, potential jobs or your sustainability policies, then you better be ready.’
Depending on how the wider debate on the State of Social develops I might expand on some of these or other points later.
My ‘Voice of the expert comments:
Disclaimer, as a contributor I received a free copy of the report – would have been rather hard to comment if I hadn’t!