Social Engagement Has Tangible Benefits
The study also finds that most senior executives in the US and Canada see a variety of advantages from their social engagement. The most marked among these is improved marketing/sales effectiveness, cited by 84% as a benefit of social engagement. Other areas where a high proportion of executives see advantages from their social engagement presence include increased market share (81%), improved product/service quality (68%), improved brand or stock value (67%), improved collaboration with partners (65%), and improved speed to market/innovation (65%). In fact the only area identified where less than a majority saw an advantage was in decreased costs (37%).
Most See Impact on Brand
Looking at where respondents see impact from their social engagement, increased perceived value of the brand/stock value tops the list, cited by two-thirds of the senior executives. 62% also say that social engagement increases revenues, and 58% say it increases market share. A majority of executives see no impact on improved operating margin or decreased cost of sale or production, though.
ROI Still the Biggest Challenge
In what has become a recurring theme in the social space, the inability to prove ROI is the top challenge to deeper social engagement, cited by 45% of respondents, ahead of legal or regulatory concerns (33%), and an unclear strategy for change (32%). In fact, 28% of the senior executives said they are not measuring the impact of their social engagement initiatives, while 28% are relying on executive intuition.
- Two-thirds of the organizations reporting the highest returns said that their C-suites are active advocates of social engagement, meaning that they commit social engagement as a strategy and reallocate resources to support it. March 2012 survey results from BRANDfog [pdf] indicate that C-suite executives might want to engage even more and get personally involved: according to those results, 82% of company employees are more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership communicates openly via social media about their core mission and values. Additionally, roughly 4 in 5 respondents are more likely to buy from a company whose values and leadership are clearly defined through CEO and executive leadership participation on social media.
- Executives responding to the PulsePoint Group survey define social engagement today as online listening (28%), blogging (24%), and building relationships with online influencers (21%).
- Benchmarks (33%) and key performance indicators (30%) will be the top approaches for measuring social engagement initiatives in the next 2 years.
- 59% say that youth, both employees and customers, expect and value engagement, and that is a driving force behind their engagement plans. 54% report that customer expectations of social engagement is fueling their plans.
- Just 17% of respondents say they have responsibility well distributed throughout the organization, while two-thirds say responsibility is assigned to a single department. The largest proportion of respondents see marketing and branding (41%) as having the prime responsibility for social engagement, followed closely by marketing communications (40%).
- Roughly 7 in 10 say that customers speaking out via social media increases sales, while two-thirds say that suppliers connecting via social media raises their game.
About the Data: The PulsePoint Group data is based on a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted in February 2012. There were 329 respondents from the US and Canada representing 19 industries. 47% were C-level executives, including 31% who were CEOs. The BRANDfog data is based on a survey of several hundred employees of diverse companies, spanning in size from startups to Fortune 500 companies, and working at all levels of their respective organizations.