About half (53%) of consumer packaged goods companies are still social media "wall flowers," meaning that they still have both low presence and low engagement within these media, according to an informal survey conducted among members by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
The 14-question (both multiple choice and open-ended) online survey drew 22 responses from CPGs. The results were reported at last week's GMA CPG Social Media Forum in New York.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the respondents confirmed that they are shifting resources from traditional media to social media.
Half reported that their companies are using Facebook to some extent, and 41% said they are using Twitter, while just 29% said their companies blog regularly.
However, 82% reported having used social media for issues management, and 76% have internal policies governing how employees may participate in social networking.
About 70% reported that marketing "owns" social media development and initiatives within the company. (Communications was a distant first runner-up.)
Half said they are working on generating revenue from social media, but have not succeeded yet. Just two respondents reported that social media are already a predominantly revenue-generating (as opposed to resource-using) activity. In addition, one respondent said that social media both uses resources and generates revenue.
More than half (54%) reported having no program in place to monitor and report on consumer-generated content, 45% reported having no tools to track social media activities, and 50% reported having no specific metrics to measure social media success.
Among those who do use metrics, those cited included coupon usage and online purchases; numbers of comments, registrants, participants, followers or "engagements"; positive versus negative "buzz"; awareness; and use of vanity URL's specific to social media.
Social media challenges cited included how to monetize; how to tie interactions to media mentions and sales; how to keep content constantly fresh; how to market without "polluting" social media's foundation of trust between friends; and negative exposure and legal implications.
Social media opportunities for CPGs cited included: ability to connect personally with customers in real-time; consumer engagement with the product; the consumer as product advocate; increasing reach beyond television ads; building awareness among younger generations; seeking new talent; cost-efficiency as a marketing tool; positioning the company as a resource/improving brand image; and internal company communications.
GMA's conclusions: While social media use is clearly on the rise among CPGs, respondent companies in general seem to be "grasping at what, how and who to get involved in social media"; that monitoring and measuring social media is "still a big question mark" for CPGs; and that while the opportunity for ROI exists, most companies aren't realizing it yet.
GMA also observed that social media opportunities are "endless," and that, at least at present, there is no one "right" way to use these media effectively.
Association executives confirmed that GMA will continue to assist CPGs in developing and facilitating wider adoption of social media best practices.