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Econsultancy report: Social media spend will grow, but you only get out what you put in

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 25th November 2009

Econsultancy has today released its latest Online PR and Social Media Report and it makes thoroughly interesting reading (download here – login/membership required).

The report, edited by Linus Gregoriadis and Michelle Goodall, is based on a survey of more than 1,100 companies and agencies.

I’ve been wading through some of the findings and have pulled out the following, that are particularly interesting:

Social media participation is growing, but heavy participation is still rare

It’s hard to miss coverage of social media in the media, but the report suggests that many brands and agencies are still just dipping their toes in the water with only 26% saying they are heavily involved in social media and 64% having experimented but not ‘done much’.

“Softer” brand-building factors are seen as “major benefits” as opposed to harder financial advantages such as increased profitability

No surprise here, but there are some interesting statistics when you dig a little deeper: 73% of respondents have seen greater brand awareness through using social media. 71% saw increased customer engagement, 66% better brand reputation and 62% increased communication / networking with key influencers. These are all benefits that you would also expect (or would have expected!) to achieve through traditional PR.

Overwhelming personal enthusiasm for social media, but many organisations do not share the same positive outlook

I wrote recently about the difficulties of getting internal buy-in for social media and the report seems to support this. When asked about the opportunities provided by social media, 61% of respondents said that as individuals they saw tremendous opportunities for their business, but only 31% said their organisations as a whole have this same positive outlook.

Twitter is increasingly popular

Interestingly a massive 78% said they are using Twitter, compared to only 47% using a corporate or brand blog. Perhaps the convenience of micro-blogging is just as appealing when it comes to brands as it is for many individuals.

Customer service teams yet to embrace social media

I also revealed recently that the growth in usage of social media by customer services teams is likely to increase in the near future, however the Econsultancy report shows that 35% of respondents said that social media activity was managed by digital marketing teams, 21% by PR teams, with only 2% saying it was managed by customer services.

Monitoring tools

Despite the array of tools out there, a surprising 46% said they didn’t use any form of online repuation or buzz monitoring technology. 39% used a free tool with only 8% paying.

Social media spend will grow, but you only get out what you put in

The majority of companies surveyed (86%) said they expect investment in social media to increase in 2010, but there is a health warning in the report – “You only get what you put in” – with only 1% of companies who are heavily involved in social media say that they have gained no real value from the channel. Education seems to be important here with 59% saying a lack of knowledge or understanding was a key barrier to adoption.

Danny Whatmough