econsultancy and sponsors bigmouthmedia have just published their report on Social Media and Online PR based on a survey of around 1,100 agency and client-side digital folk.

It’s an interesting report not least in presenting a picture that’s in line with other research I’m aware of, showing that social media adoption is still at a pretty nascent, ad hoc stage in most UK corporate organisations, whether in the public or private sectors. A few interesting highlights:

  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of companies say they have experimented with social media but have not done much. Just over a quarter of companies (26%) are heavily involved in social media.
  • Nearly two-thirds of company respondents (61%) say that social media provide tremendous opportunities for their business. However, less than a third (31%) say that their organisations as a whole have this same positive outlook.
  • SMEs are embracing social media more quickly. Of the smaller companies (those with a turnover of less than £1 million), 46% say that the company view is that social media provide tremendous opportunities.
    – In contrast, just 16% of respondents working for companies with annual revenues of more than £150 million say their organisations feel the same.
  • Just over a quarter of respondents (27%) say that they are good at listening and monitoring, but 59% feel they need to improve. Only 19% of respondents say that their organisations do well in terms of engaging customers in dialogue. Again, the majority (55%) feel that they could improve this type of engagement.
  • Some 42% of company respondents are not using any agencies to manage their social media and online PR activity. The most commonly used types of agency for social media and online PR activity are traditional PR agencies (15%) and digital agencies (11%). Just 8% use a specialist online PR agency and only 4% use a specialist social media agency.
  • Just under half of companies (46%) are not yet using reputation or buzz monitoring tools to understand what is being said about their brand. Of the remainder, 39% are using a free tool, 8% are using a paid-for solution, and 8% use a combination of both free and paid-for tools.
  • Nearly a third of respondents (31%) are not spending any of their budgets on social media. Around half (49%) are spending up to 10% of their digital marketing budget on social media, and 34% are spending up to 5% of budget.

Full disclosure: I’m cited in a few places in the report as the ‘Voice of the Expert’, laughably enough, responding to some of the findings. I have no commercial or customer relationship with the sponsors or authors of the report.

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Hi Stuart – thanks for the review. I question your criticism of the respondents. Agreed that if they are already in touch with econsultancy then they are likely to be social media savvy however the split of respomdents is probably fair. The majority of businesses in the UK are sme’s therefore 53% of respondents having a t/o of less than £50m is probably representative of the market.
Am I nit-picking…probably, but thought it worth mentioning.

Jonathan Hirst

This comment was originally posted on Wolfstar

Hi Stuart, thanks for taking the time to write this up. I think it’s a fair point that individuals responding to our survey requests are more digitally savvy than the average marketer. However, most of the questions ask what their companies are doing, rather than them as individuals.

In fact, in the report, we contrast what individuals think about the opportunities presented by social media, with their companies’ attitude.

In terms of defining social media and online PR, this is an on-going debate and, of course, as you say, people will interpret questions differently. We didn’t attempt to narrow down a definition of social media at the start of the survey.

I do agree we could do more in the future reports to cover things such as stakeholder relations and internal communications.

I have to question your logic when you say:

This comment was originally posted on Wolfstar

Cut off again … my point is that dozens of big brands in fact took part in the survey, and we’ve broken down the results by company size (where differences are most interesting). There are dozens of £150million+ turnover companies represented (18% out of a 400+ sample) … a lot of ‘big’ companies. Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director, Econsultancy

This comment was originally posted on Wolfstar