Most Enterprises Taking Social Media Seriously

    October 7, 2009
    Chris Crum

Deloitte, Beeline Labs and the Society for New Communications Research have released findings from a study of companies sponsoring online communities. The study found that enterprises are continuing to invest in social media tools and online communities.

Specifically, 94% of the respondents indicated that they plan to maintain or increase investment in their communities. Only 6% intend to decrease investment. Even still, the report says companies are continuing to struggle with harnessing the full potential of social media, even though they are using the tools to engage with customers, partners, and employees for brand discussion and idea generation.

Ed Moran, Deloitte "Despite risks associated with participating in online communities, the internal costs of community formation and management and the fact that we are in the midst of a profound recession, organizations’ continued and enhanced investment in online communities underscores the perceived potential for the value that they may provide to the enterprise," said Ed Moran, director of product innovation, Deloitte Services LP.

"Social media and communities are expected to continue to play a significant role in the way in which companies are interacting with employees, customers, partners and the larger business ecosystem, thereby redefining the very edge of the corporation," added Moran.

The top business objectives for social media as cited by respondents are as follows:

– word-of-mouth – 38%
– customer loyalty – 34%
– brand awareness – 30%
– idea generation – 29%
– improved customer support quality (23%)

According to the report, for most companies, marketing is the primary driver of social media use, and this results in a big gap between goals and organizations’ "capability to fully leverage" the communities on an enterprise-wide basis.

Francois Gossieaux "While we are seeing signs of maturation in this year’s study, there are still plenty of companies who do not realize the power of communities, and others who have not yet figured out the proper approach for leveraging communities as part of their business," said Francois Gossieaux, partner with Beeline Labs and a senior fellow with the Society of New Communications Research. "Businesses are truly become social again, and companies should look to leverage the collective wisdom of their employees, customers and partners in order to innovate faster, reduce costs, and bolster their bottom lines."

The report suggests that there is an evolution taking place in how enterprises are tracking and engaging with both active and inactive members of their communities. Over 32% of respondents capture data on how people are getting value from the community.

20% have formal "ambassador" programs, giving outsiders preferential treatment in return for being more active in the community. About 40% said that more full-time people were being deployed to manage communities.

Additional findings from the study can be found here. One section of the report discusses obstacles of successful community creation and the gaps between goals and measurement.