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ethicalcorp-coping-with-social-media-criticism-july2012.pngOf 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 [pdf] a July 2012 report by Ethical Corporation and Useful Social Media. Just 15% of companies reported that they were fully engaged with the problem.

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 a 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% believe that companies use it chiefly for advertising.

Facebook, Twitter Used By Most Companies

The social media outlets that companies use, as reported by their senior corporate responsibility personnel in the Ethical Corporation study, are Facebook – used by 71% of companies – followed by Twitter and LinkedIn, which are both used by 60% of companies. YouTube is used by 40%, and Google+ by 24%.

These platforms are generally in line with consumer use as well, and where activist organizations are likely to target companies. Greenpeace, as an example has, 1,153,671 Facebook followers (measured by Facebook likes) as of this writing, 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.

Social Media A Key Platform For Engagement

A study by IBM released in June revealed that CEOs see a bright future for social media in customer engagement, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in a report released in July, calls speed and interaction “essential” in customer engagement, which favors 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.

About The Data: Ethical Corporation and Useful Social Media distributed an exclusive survey to their customer communities. The researchers conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with industry experts from companies such as GE, Gap, Procter and Gamble and Southwest Airlines; activist organizations including Greenpeace, MoxyVote and 38 Degrees; and social media and communications experts from Conversocial, Engage121 and Polecat, among others.

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