Harris Poll Finds Companies in Quandary Over Social Media


The vast majority of marketers worldwide believe that maintaining a presence on social media is essential to their companies’ staying competitive, according to a new survey from Harris Poll. When listing the benefits of social media campaigns, however, converting business did not make their top five, lending credence to the widely held belief that social media is channel better suited to building relationships than to spurring sales.

On behalf of Hootsuite, Harris conducted an Internet poll of more than 750 current and prospective customers and learned that four fifths of them think social media marketing is a necessity and that the data it generated could improve their bottom lines. Yet only about 40% say their companies fully capitalized on the data or are able to turn it into anything actionable.

In some ways, social media is a victim of its own popularity. “Social media is no longer owned by one person in marketing or corporate communications. It’s in play in sales, customer service, IT, R&D, and drawing actionable insights from the data is a challenge,” says Hootsuite’s VP of Community and Customer Experience Jeanette Gibson, who will present the full results of the study at a customer event in New York today.

Nearly three quarters of those surveyed say the number of departments using social media at their companies is growing, and more than half say that aligning strategy across those units is a challenge. Some 43% say that extracting buy-in on a common strategy from executives in charge of the silos is problematic.

Most are in agreement, though, that social media is essential to improving customer communication and intelligence. More than 80% name enhancing customer relationships, engaging with influencers, and gauging their company’s reputation as the major rewards of social media activities.

The close to half of respondents who use a social media platform are effusive in their praise of its merits. Asked to identify the most important features of such software, more than three quarters of respondents cite analytics, campaign metrics, social listing, campaign execution, and the ability to manage multiple accounts. But devising strategies to deliver such benefits to every department or every enterprise will take time.

“We’re seeing huge demands for more types of training and communication within companies,” Gibson says. “Governance of social media is a huge issue. Companies are afraid of doing something wrong, and education is something all of them are grappling with.”

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