As social marketing champions, we at Awareness eagerly devour new reports on the state of the industry. When influential thinkers Denis Pombriant from Beagle Research and Esteban Kolsky from ThinkJar collaborated on a Social Media 2012: State of Adoption white paper sponsored by Microsoft, D&B, Salesforce.com, Moxie Software, Kana and Attensity, we couldn't wait to dive into their findings. Denis and Esteban surveyed over 300 business people from a wide variety of industries, 27% of whom names themselves SVPs, C-level executives or board members.
The major finding? Social marketing is still an early market, not yet being leveraged to its full potential. This mirrors findings from our State of Social Marketing Report as well.
The survey found adoption is high, with over 60% of respondents stating they have implemented social media or would within 6 months. However, it's clear that not all business people are equipped to use social strategically. The clearest evidence of this is the number of respondents who use social media simply as a low-cost broadcast tool, instead of a way to explore novel interactions with customers and prospects.
Denis and Esteban conclude that while obstacles to adoption remain, they are largely not technical. Most people throughout the business understand the power of social, but lack clarity around how to get started. Perhaps not surprisingly, those in the company who understand social least, named as HR, operations and legal, have the most concerns around social media implementation. Their concerns center around issues in security, legal and relevance to the business.
The biggest potential for social lies in the ability to capture customer data for analysis and be used as a disruptive way of reaching customers. Instead, they argue too many businesses are still relying on social as an outbound broadcast channel, more closely aligned with traditional marketing channels. This finding suggests social media usage for business is still in its early stages, reflecting a similar adoption curve to various other channels at their inception, including email and e-commerce.
Marketing and customer service departments are currently using social more effectively than the sales teams, the report suggests. To aid the sales process, social media is currently being used for early stages in the funnel, including prospecting and relaying prospect information to the sales team. Customer service uses social to perform activities like providing accurate information to customers quickly and improving first call resolution. On the marketing side, Denis and Esteban report that marketers are using social to capture supplementary customer data to use in nurturing programs. At Awareness, we believe this has far-ranging implications, as this data collection can augment sales, customer service, product development and marketing programs. As marketers begin to use this data to develop custom scoring, they will bring increased sophistication to the field.
Esteban and Denis provide some clear recommendations for social marketing vendors and companies alike, marketers lack a framework to do social well. Currently, there's a void around education; marketers need more information around lessons learned, best practices, frameworks, and methodologies. These assets will equip marketers with what they need to move the needle on marketing programs and provide direction and clarity to nascent programs.
To compare Denis and Esteban's results to ours, check out our free State of Social Marketing Report and Denis's key takeaways from their survey, Social Media 2012: State of Adoption. Marketers, weigh in! Are you yet collecting data on customers and prospects to enhance the sophistication of your marketing programs? Tell us at @Awarenessinc.