Monday, December 13, 2010

Industry and Social Media 101

In November, FedEx and Ketchum released this study that benchmarks the best practices of 60 leading companies who are leveraging social media to drive internal cultural, brand performance, and reputation management. "Companies are using social media to change the way they communicate with their employees and customers, indicating a convergence of external and internal communications." They have set up a website to discuss the survey.

Both organizations suggest in this survey that social media is disrupting the way the world communicates and companies must continue to evolve how they interact with people to remain relevant. In our view, this recognizes the lack of in-depth research regarding how social media impacts the way companies program, budget, and set up their marketing teams.

Ketchum used a standardized interview protocol to guide 30-minute conversations with chief communications officers or their social-media leads at 60 leading companies across most major industries. Interviews occurred between August and October of 2010.

Here are some insights derived from the study:
  1. If you’re not open to feedback, you’re not ready to play.
  2. Organizations should recognize the rise of citizen journalism and the need to engage bloggers to support brand development and reputation management.
  3. Participants conveyed significantly greater focus on external rather than internal social media applications, but expressed strong interest in building up internal capabilities—primarily via enhanced intranets—in 2011 and beyond.
  4. Organizations are trending towards more formal collaborative social media oversight models that are inclusive of diverse business units and functions.
  5. Most organizations do not have formal internal learning programs established to promote the development of social media expertise.
  6. Companies continue to see the value in partnering with third parties to develop and execute social media programming.
  7. Participants most frequently estimated spending between 5% and 15% of their overall communications budgets on social media programming in 2010.
  8. The pace and scope of change as new tools and technology emerge demands an unparalleled degree of organizational nimbleness.
  9. As digital and social tools become the go-to resources for everything from news and information to friendship and love, smart brands will continue to figure out better ways to add value to the online experience—internally and externally.
While these conclusions may not be news to pharma's social media veterans, they are still valuable: They can be used in discussions with senior management about social media trends and to leverage those difficult discussions on social media operations in their companies. For us, these study results demonstrate just how much more work the industry has to accomplish to even be a participant in this growing communications channel.  

But like other business issues, regulated content may inhibit the industry's ability to even participate in the leading edge of social media discussion.  We think it is time for industry to focus on insight #1, "If you're not open to feedback, you're not ready to play."

Our recommendations for anyone in industry in this space:  Use these 9 insights as your strategic building blocks for the next 3 to 5 years. 

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