Of the companies that have been subject to social media criticism however strong (ranging from a single complaint to a full-scale campaign), fully 72% rated their preparedness as average or below, with 20% being completely unprepared, according to a July 2012 report by Ethical Corporation and Useful Social Media. Just 15% of companies reported that they were fully engaged and prepared for the problem or eventuality.
This finding follows from research showing that social media users believe that companies are out of step in their use of social media. Indeed, according to an Allstate/National Journal report from June, 64% of social media users want to see an increase in companies using social media to respond to questions and complaints. 73% of users believe that companies use it only for advertising.
The social media outlets that companies use are:
- Facebook – 71%
- Twitter – 60%
- LinkedIn – 60%
- YouTube – 40%
- Google+ – 24%
These platforms are generally in line with consumer use as well, and where activist organisations are likely to target companies. Greenpeace, as an example has, 1,153,671 Facebook followers (measured by Facebook likes), and 520,072 Twitter followers. One of its current Facebook campaigns challenges the US Government’s approval of Shell’s spill response plan for Arctic drilling.
A study by IBM released in June 2011 revealed that CEOs see a bright future for social media in customer engagement, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in a report released in July of the same year, calls speed and interaction ‘essential’ in customer engagement, which favours digital engagement. PwC observes that 67% of fast-growth private companies actively use social media to engage and research their customers, and that these companies are generally more successful, forecasting 11.3% revenue growth over the next year compared with 6.3% revenue growth projected by private companies that do not use digital tools for customer engagement.
What can we deduce from all these numbers? It’s a simple truth, and one that portals need to take to heart. Social Media can help you connect with your customer base, however once connected you must be prepared to answer their needs, wants and complaints very, very quickly. The ‘internet culture’ moves very fast careful not to let it overtake you.