New Survey Finds Digital Gap Still Exists Despite Social Media Usage Growth

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A recent survey conducted by the marketing firm, InSites Consulting, polled 1,222 managers and business owners from organizations with 20 or more employees in the United States, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France. One of its key findings was that a digital gap is growing in the corporate world. Companies which are already investing a lot will do so even more in future. Companies which are currently not investing in digital media are also not planning to do so. InSites’ conclusion was that these companies need to engage with their target audiences in order not to miss out on them.

“Even though there is a clear digital evolution and pull among clients, there are still companies that are not convinced that they too have to go with the evolution,” states Prof Steven Van Belleghem, partner at the research agency InSites Consulting.

He adds that the risk for these companies is that, in a rather short term, they will miss out on an important target group in their market. It is time for these companies to observe, facilitate and join these conversations through consumer consulting boards or social media observation techniques.

Other key conclusions of the study included

Eight out of ten American companies are present on Facebook, 45% on Twitter

It’s not just consumers who are making their presence known onto popular social network sites—an increasing number of companies also use it. In fact, 80% of the American companies use Facebook, 45% have a Twitter account, 48% are present on LinkedIn, and 31% use YouTube. These numbers show that American companies have evolved further in their social media usage compared to companies in Europe.

61% listen to conversations between consumers on social media

Four out of ten American companies listen to what consumers say about them on social network sites. “Social media makes conversations between consumers very transparent. Companies can quite easily discover what people are saying about their products and services. An increasingly growing group is strongly interested—and with good reason—in this real-time feedback from the market,” states Van Belleghem.

The survey found that U.S. companies are very successful in answering questions via social media as 83% of companies indicate they always deal with questions or complaints sent to them via social media. Still, only 54% of the companies in this survey also talk to and actively participate in online conversations with consumers.

High usage but low integration of social media

Finally, the survey showed that companies find it very important to be present on social network sites. However, this does not always mean their strategy in doing so is well thought-out. A mere 11% of the companies are integrating their social media approach into their overall corporate strategy while17% are currently mid-integration. More than 1 out of 4 (26%) of the American companies are not even doing anything on social media! The integration is at similar levels compared to the European status.

“A huge number of companies feel external pressure to be present on social media,” says Van Belleghem. “Unfortunately this very often results in static corporate pages where nothing really happens. It too often leads to mere presence, not engagement with people. In doing so, companies create enthusiasm among their customers which in the end turns into disappointment.”

For more information, visit www.insites-consulting.com.

Daniel Casciato is a full-time freelance writer from Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to writing for Western Pennsylvania Hospital News and Pittsburgh Healthcare Report, he’s also a social media coach. For more information, visit www.danielcasciato.com, follow him on Twitter @danielcasciato, or friend him on Facebook (facebook.com/danielcasciato).