Sure -- many U.S. marketers have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account. But the number of them who have truly integrated those social networks into their overall strategy is still surprisingly small.
According to research from InSites Consulting, less than a fifth (16%) of U.S. marketers feel they have fully integrated social media into their company’s overall strategy -- despite most having a Facebook page (66%) or a Twitter account (51%). (Forty-four percent have LinkedIn pages.) Of these companies, 42% said they are still only in the experimental stage when it comes to social media.
“I have a feeling we’re living in a ‘check-list’ mentality,” Steven Van Belleghem, managing partner at InSites Consulting, tells Marketing Daily. “Many companies have started social media in a tactic way. They rapidly created an account on a popular network without it being a total strategy.”
One of the main obstacles for companies to fully integrate social media is still an uncertainty about the financial returns. Many companies have also not yet invested in education and training when it comes to social media and social media strategy.
“For a lot of companies, it’s unclear what the [financial] outcome will be,” Van Belleghem says. “Everything is due to a lack of knowledge, and they tend to make wrong or limited decisions.”
Still, there are some sectors that have been early adopters when it comes to social media -- specifically those involved with technology, telecommunications and media. A full quarter of those companies said they had fully integrated social media into their company processes. Meanwhile, about a third of companies in the pharmaceutical and financial industries have just begun to experiment with social media -- mainly due to legal and privacy concerns, according to Van Belleghem.
For those companies looking to deepen social media integration, he has three tips: Invest in social media education and training for employees; create small pilot programs that are feasible and can show short-term benefits, and include consumers -- particularly those who have indicated an affinity to the brand -- in the integration.
“The real challenge is to become more consumer-centric,” he says. “[Companies] need to listen and understand their consumers.”