At the recently completed CRM Evolution conference, sponsored by CRM Magazine in New York, Esteban Kolsky presented some of the results of our social media research. We’d been working on it for most of the year and we were writing up the findings almost until Esteban gave the presentation. It killed me not to be there but I had a client engagement.
The research was sponsored by Microsoft, Kana, Moxie, Dun and Bradstreet, Attensity and Salesforce.com. And while we will be issuing a free white paper for general consumption soon, I thought it would be good to share our key findings, which will be part of the paper, as an early thank you to all of the people who used social media to drive the response rate up. Using social to study social might not have been a first but it was certainly demonstrative of the benefits we were studying. So, without further preamble, here are the key findings.
- It’s still an early market. The majority of companies surveyed have some experience with social media primarily through the big name social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, corporate blogs and video sharing sites like YouTube. This suggests that companies are just getting started; other data shows that reliance on these media is primarily outbound. In other words, companies are using social as a low cost way to broadcast a message but not necessarily as a means of collecting customer input that can be turned into valuable information.
- Obstacles to adoption remain but they are largely not technical. Executives “get it.” The line of business people are less sure and younger people generally have more experience with social media and they get it too. The sticking points are not IT related. People say they have some concerns about legal issues, security and many haven’t figured out where in their organizations to first apply social media or which business processes to start with. This shows there’s plenty of opportunity AND that vendor messaging has not cracked the nut yet. It also shows a tremendous opportunity for vendors and providers to show the way to do social well, including lessons learned, best practices, frameworks, and methodologies.
- The usual suspects have the greatest adoption e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, plus the corporate blog and video. Reliance on these media, which are primarily oriented toward outbound personal communication, is a good indicator of the level of sophistication for social media use. While these channels are important they represent the last mile for social media use. Other activities like capturing customer input lag and a strong case can be made that companies are building out their social strategies in a sequential process — from the customer in or from the data out.
- It should not be surprising that video and picture sharing are among the top social media. Many organizations have not yet adopted video as a messaging tool in part because it can be expensive and it requires additional expertise that must either be hired or bought on a consulting basis. But in this and other research, we have seen that organizations that have adopted video and sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are discovering strong ROI especially in the sales and marketing process. Video sharing through links in social media is a natural fit and companies are eagerly adopting it.
- Marketing and service have more uses for social media than does sales, so far. Customer service has more use cases for social media than the other two areas combined. Sales adoption is clustered around the early parts of the funnel such as prospecting and providing information. Marketers know that social is useful for capturing supplementary customer data and using it in nurturing programs. Customer service uses social media in a variety of situations for improving first call resolution and providing correct information to customers. Overall, marketing’s use of social media appears to be more sophisticated than either sales or service as these two departments use social for outbound communication primarily. Marketing is at least beginning to collect customer input for data collection.
- Social media has also made significant impacts inside the organization for communicating with and among employees. Among its benefits are, better employee feedback, greater individual participation in problem solving and greater job satisfaction. Although people see easier recruiting benefits, they do not see improvement in employee retention with social media. Nonetheless, a company’s positive experience with employee give and take through social media will give some the confidence they need to use social media in novel ways with customers to capture more feedback — internal successes will easily lead to further adoption of the technologies and to seek external use cases.
- Content is king. Ranking the three major social media for usefulness, Twitter is first followed by Facebook and then LinkedIn. Interestingly, corporate blogs and product/service blogs are rated higher than the top three services indicating that people want specific content and they are not put off by content size or the time it might take to read or view it. So the three popular social tools might help get the conversation started but successful companies will quickly discover that they need more content for follow up. Our CRM Idol experience this year confirms this point: we are seeing a larger-than-normal number of vendors focused on content creation, tracking, and management.
- About 70% of those who completed the survey said they were involved in the purchase process and 27% said their job titles were in a range from SVP to C-level or board members. We therefore feel that this report represents opinions of serious decision makers.
- We conducted this survey in Europe too. But the results did not yield a sufficient response to be deemed quantitative. This analysis focuses only on data collected from the primary, U.S. based survey and while there may be some responses from overseas in this data we are considering it the primary data and not loaded with a significant response from outside the U.S. or North American market.
Stay tuned for more.
(Cross-posted @ Beagle Research, LLC.)