Which Organizational Areas Are Relying the Most on Social Tools?

MITDeloitte-Importance-Social-Business-by-Org-Area-July2013The second annual social business study [download page] from the MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte covers a broad range of social business uses in the organization, as well as the importance of social tools across different areas and objectives. Based on a survey of 2,545 executives around the globe conducted in the fall of 2012, the study determines that social business (the use of social media, tech-based internal networks, social software, and/or social data) is – not surprisingly – most important to marketing, branding, and reputation management, but customer service and audience engagement isn’t far behind.

Specifically, 8 in 10 respondents said that social business is important (53%) or somewhat important (27%) to marketing, branding and reputation management. Close behind, about three-quarters said that these tools are important (45%) or somewhat important (29%) to customer service and audience engagement, and 7 in 10 ascribed that level of importance for innovation (knowledge sharing, product/service development).

Of course, the use of social tools in these areas requires no explanation (for reference, recent studies have demonstrated social’s growing use as a customer service channel, and future as a driver of innovation). But it’s interesting to see how entrenched social business appears to be in these areas, particularly as the report separately finds social business maturation to be “stuck in first gear” for most companies.

When it comes to social’s role in meeting company objectives, its importance is most pronounced in managing brand and reputation risk (75% rating it important or somewhat important), with 7 in 10 or more seeing it as at least somewhat important for understanding market trends (72%), improving (or increasing) collaboration (71%) and managing customer relations (70%).

The use of social technologies carries with it certain risks (most often related to reputation), but the social business study indicates that executives are increasingly using social tools to manage their reputation. Asked which uses of social business have increased within their organization within the last 12 months, a leading 36% of respondents selected  reputation management as one of their top 3 responses. Closely following, 35% have increased their use of social tools to drive brand affinity (such as loyalty and trust), while 27% are also using them more to provide customer service and support.

About the Data: The survey was conducted in the fall of 2012 among 2,545 executives from 25 industries and 99 countries.