By Nick Johnson - February 4th, 2013

In this extract from the forthcoming State of Corporate Social Media briefing, we look at how social is currently being used in large companies. Get a copy:


Current focuses for social media deployment

Unsurprisingly, marketing and communications are still core focus areas for social media use within business. Social was welcomed into corporations through marketing’s door, after all. The ability to communicate in a new, more personable and interactive way led to formidable marketing gains in terms of response rate, loyalty and satisfaction.  It is therefore profoundly unsurprising that a clear 90% of companies now use social media as part of a broader marcomms strategy. 
But social is increasingly expanding into other business units. The leader of the pack is the customer service department.
In 2013, the majority of large corporates (53%) have added social media elements to their customer service function. It’s unsurprising - the speedy and direct communication that social media offers means it is not only attractive to a consumer looking to resolve issues, but to the savvy customer service department looking to highlight their responsiveness, share positive stories - and spot issues in the first place.

The differences between b2b and b2c businesses

Again, b2c companies take the lead here. While 50% of b2c companies now use social media for customer service, the b2b community lags behind with only a 36% adoption. Perhaps this is unsurprising - social lends itself to customer service at high volume, not in-depth and often complex issues that arise with a smaller, more demanding customer base as tends to be the case in b2b businesses.

Social as an early warning system

The utility of social media as a bellwether - something giving the corporate enhanced ability to spot trouble brewing - links closely into another huge area of social’s expanding influence within business. Again, a majority of corporations  (53%) are now using social to augment their ‘reputation preservation and crisis communications’ function. This area has experienced formidable growth - less than a third of companies were leveraging social for this function in 2012. This is perhaps spurred by two things:
  1. The realisation that corporations no longer have the power to dictate their own brand messaging: The company is now only one voice in the conversation, and the role of the communications department is only ever to influence, not dominate, discussion.
  2. A spate of high-profile social media ‘screw ups’ in 2012 - from Kenneth Cole and the Egyptian riots; to Nestle, Sinar Mas and Greenpeace; to Ragu Pasta Sauce alienating ‘daddy bloggers’ - problems snarling up on social media have led to real embarrassment, brand  damage, and in some cases, share prices dropping. 
Using social media for reputation preservation is now a sensible part of corporate risk management.

Get a clearer picture of your customer

The third key area of social expansion within business is ‘customer insight’. 56% of our corporate respondents are now using social to get more clarity and detail on who their customer is, where they are, and what they like. One can use this finding to back up the assertion  that the rise of ‘customer centricity’ as a corporate focus in 2013 is fuelled in large part by the increasing clarity and detail that social monitoring offers. It’s akin to the shift from normal resolution to HD in televisions - the detail is now there to spot.
To summarise, over half of all corporations are now using social media for:
  1. Marketing
  2. Communications
  3. Customer Service
  4. Increased Customer Insight (and yet only 16% of companies have a social CRM system)
  5. Reputation Preservation and Crisis Communications

Find out more

You can download a complete copy of the State of Corporate Social Media 2013 here. The briefing is in the midst of being designed right now, but should be available in Mid-February. Sign up now and we'll send you a copy - with 7 chapters and 30+ pages of statistics, trends, benchmarks and analysis, as soon as it's ready.

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