New study shows Social Media Interaction brings Greater Business Impact

There have been some clear signals in recent months that marketers have begun to shake off their doubts about the benefits of social media and are prepared to invest more time and money on it.

A recent study has shown that some of the more social-savvy companies are beginning to use social engagement to generate more sales leads, expand marketshare and more efficiently hone their marketing message.

The study was conducted by the Austin based PulsePoint Group and The Economist Intelligence Unit. It shows companies that are willing to take the leap and embrace social engagement are experiencing – “Four times greater business impact” than their other less socially engaged rivals.

To work out these statistics, PulsePoint observed the effect of those companies who actively engage with their employees, customers, partners and stakeholders – “In meaningful conversations – enabled by social technologies – so that both parties benefit. This mutual exchange of value is not just about products but about useful information that builds commonality of interests and a sense of trust.”

The key findings are:

  • The average return on social engagement was calculated to be between 3-5%. The most engaged businesses are reporting a calculated 7.7% business impact specifically from social engagement, which is four times the performance of the lowest performers who only achieved a 1.9% estimated return.
  • The top two areas where executives thought social engagement had real value were improved marketing and sales effectiveness (84%) and increased sales and market share (81%).
  • C-suite advocacy is critical, now and in the future. Two-thirds of the organisations achieving the highest returns reported that their C-suites are active advocates– that is, they commit to social engagement as a strategy and they reallocate resources to make it happen.
  • However, a full 28% of C-suite executives still don’t believe in social engagement. The number one reason? The inability to gauge ROI (45%). For engagement to work, the C-suite has to believe in it and see measurable returns.
  • The most socially engaged segments believe that widely distributed buy-in across the organization – and beyond marketing and communications – is key for scale and generating economic business impact. This even includes operations management and financial leadership.
  • Executives defined social engagement today as online listening (28%), blogging (24%) and building relationships with online influencers (21%).  But the top performers have a different view – they will be more focused on ideas and action in the next two years. Big-return companies crowdsource new products (57%), or let customers participate in developing ideas — they are predicting a significant portion of new products will be derived from social engagement insights.
  • Fifty-nine percent of executives/managers interviewed say that young people, as employees and customers, will expect and value engagement; that’s what is driving their engagement plans. Fifty-four percent say that customer expectation of social engagement is driving their plans.
  • In order for companies to know whether their investments are providing returns, appropriate metrics need to be developed.  The research indicates that benchmarks (33%) and key performance indicators (30%) will be the top approaches for measuring social engagement in the next two years.  Today, many companies are depending on executive intuition (27%) or are simply not measuring impact (28%).

The full press release for the study can be found here – PulsePoint press release.