NEWS21 December 2010

Marketers using social media for PR, not insight, says HBR survey

Data analytics North America

US— Market research and customer insight, CRM and customer service teams are trailing behind marketing, communications and even IT departments when it comes to setting social media strategies within companies, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study.

HBR said that many of the 2,100 firms surveyed seemed to concentrate primarily on using social media as a one-way promotional channel. “They had yet to capitalise on their ability to listen and analyse customer conversations so that the information could be used to impact the bottom line,” HBR said.

According to the report: “While more than half [of companies] are using social media, only about one quarter of users said they could identify where their most valuable customers are ‘talking’ about them. And less than one quarter ( 23%) are using any form of social media analytic tools, with only 5% using some form of customer sentiment analysis.”

Indeed 40% of respondents cited their most pressing challenges as understanding the potential of social media to make a difference to their business, and measuring the effectiveness of social media activities. When asked to rank the top three benefits of using social media, just 20% of respondents pointed to ‘better understanding of consumer perceptions of brands’ while 19% said ‘improved insights about our target market’.

One survey participant, a vice president of strategy for an international construction company, said: “It’s like the old joke of asking five blindfolded people to touch an elephant and describe what it is. Social media is different things to different people and there is no good analytical framework to measure it. Just as TV advertising had to figure out an ROI, there will be the same evolution in social media.”

“Most organisations are in discovery mode when it comes to social media,” said Alex Clemente, managing director of HBR Analytic Services.

@RESEARCH LIVE

2 Comments

10 years ago

Given the Conversition blog post today, this article is perfect timing! The last year has definitely been one of discovering what this strange beast called social media is. Our next challenge - using it to its full advantage to provide consumers with the best possible products and services. Our blog post if you're interested... http://twurl.nl/bbp1cp http://www.conversition.com

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10 years ago

I think a lot of this issue has to do with reporting tools. PR and social marketing are anecdotal in nature. The tools available to track social activity are most suited for those tasks. It takes experience with the tools plus some marketing chops to tease out other findings. Right now, companies who can place an ROI on efforts tend to be running promotions and tracking response. But, the will is there and tools/analytics are coming. Watch for both companies and researchers to use crowdsourcing for direct queries to gain insight and build meaningful communities as a next step, too.

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