Originally the domain of scrappy startups, social media has definitely hit the big time -- or at least has become the province of big companies. The recent Social Media Fitness Study reported that large and mid-size brands significantly outscored their smaller counterparts, filing respective scores of 57 and 56 versus 44 (with 100 being the maximum score). While these results may surprise some, a deeper dive into the reasons behind the gap reveals intriguing insights into the overall state of social media fitness.
Big companies have more resources to commit
That large sucking sound you hear is not from jobs leaving the U.S., but rather the time that disappears because of planning, executing, listening, responding and reporting on social media -- time that small businesses find hard to allocate. Nelleke Kloet, marketing director at fast-growing startup TagMan, notes: "Social media done right requires resources in terms of money as well as people, which bigger companies have more of."
Social media has matured into a “must-have” asset
While small companies are focused on getting the right people on the bus and their next big “pivot,” thereby making social less of a priority, large companies are three times more likely to see social as a transformative proposition for their enterprise. Explains Constance Walker of PPL Electric Utilities, who weathered a storm-caused outage in 2010 by communicating to customers via social channels: "That nailed it for our management as far as the importance of social media."
Recognizing the need for a designated driver
It takes a certain level of maturity to realize that just because you have car keys, it doesn’t mean you should get behind the wheel. In the past few years, larger companies have evolved their approach to social, replacing “twinterns” with professionals, and are four times as likely to have a designated social driver. Grant Johnston, CMO of Pegasystems, notes: “We’ve added another dedicated full-time resource to further our social media efforts, and we’re confident that this role will continue to increase.”
Social media is not all fun and games
Large companies are increasingly aware of this fact and therefore are five times as likely to have a disaster plan developed -- or in the works. Greg Tirico, senior social media manager at Sage, explains: "We are in the lucky majority of social media participants that have had the opportunity to learn from others' mistakes. It seems very natural to have a disaster plan, much like a company would put a business continuity plan in place."
A little training goes a long way
With social media, a little training can make a huge difference, yet nearly half of the small companies surveyed had no training in place. One exception to this finding was a non-profit organization called God's Love We Deliver. Em Findley handles social for GLWD and served up this explanation: "By training our staff in the basics of having an account, retweeting our work and sharing our posts, we're further involving them in spreading the message about the work that we do."
Power to the people doesn't play well in big co. land
The one area in which small companies seem to be ahead is their willingness to encourage all employees to be involved in social media. In fact, while half of small companies encourage this behavior, only one-fourth of big ones do. While this may be done out of necessity for small companies, big companies that restrict access to social media nonetheless are missing out on a huge opportunity to unleash an army of advocates for what Sage’s Tirico calls an “overall customer-centric market approach.”
It's hard to get ahead if you don't know where you're going
Four out of 10 small companies have yet to develop a road map, preferring to "wing it." This is obviously a mistake. As Erin Bush of Neustar summarizes: “They don’t put the time, effort and resources against it in the proper way and they expect to see results immediately. I like to remind folks that if you have no social media presence at all, it'll take 18 months to see results.”
For a full copy of The Social Media Fitness Report or to see how socially fit your business is relative to other companies, click here.