Posted August 25, 2009 12:49 pm by with 13 comments

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ScaredThe Center for Media Research has reported on a paper that reaches the conclusions that executives in many companies are worried about social media in some form or another. If it’s not how employees are wasting valuable company time as a result of their Twitter and / or Facebook fetishes (51%) it is about how their companies and brands are being represented in the social media world (49%). Legitimate concerns for sure but it is probably high time that executives stop wringing their hands about this stuff and just jump in with the rest of the sharks people.

About the study itself

The study providing a foundation for the white paper, “Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks,” was conducted by Minneapolis-based Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law in July 2009. A total of 438 randomly selected management, marketing and human resources executives within companies across the United States completed the online survey, providing a statistical reliability of +/-4.8 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

So what other tidbits of information came along regarding executives and this terrifying animal known as social media / marketing / networking? Basically, there appears to be an understanding that putting their head in the sand will not be a good solution to the social media conundrum faced by many companies today. In other words, execs don’t seem to like the idea but they realize that they are going to need to face the reality. Some data for you

• 81% believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients
• 81% agree it can build brand reputation
• 69% feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment
• 64% see it as a customer service tool
• 46% think it can be used to enhance employee morale

Most are reactive rather than proactive as it relates to social media. Despite the head nodding about how it can help their business, the upper echelons of executives are just plain scared of what social media can do to their companies. As a result they are not really getting involved despite the recognition of the potential upside.

Those surveyed who are not using social media on a corporate basis say non-implementation is primarily due to concern about confidentiality or security issues (40%), employee productivity (37%) or simply not knowing enough about it (51%).

This may be why many organizations continue to prohibit workplace access to social networking sites. The study found that 40 percent of companies technically block their employees from accessing social media while at work. At the same time, 26% of companies use social media to further corporate objectives and 70% said they plan to increase the use of these new opportunities.

Ok, so which side of the fence are they playing on? Do they get it enough to do something or are they just saying it to look good? While these people seem to get scared about their employees wasting time less than 1/3 have put a formal policy in place around the use of the various social media outlets of which Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc etc and less than 10% have done any employee training around it.

Well, like anything else in the fast paced Internet world that we live in (in parallel with the stalled and fearful economy that the rest of the world is stuck in) there is no stopping the progress. It will definitely be a ‘kill or be killed’ environment that all business will play in eventually regarding the online world. The following numbers, however, don’t say much about anything actually being done about what is being said.

Even though social media communication is growing, only one in 10 executives say they have staff who spend more than 50% of their time on such efforts, and only 13% have included social media in their organizations’ crisis communications plans.

So all of you executives in the C-suite go ahead and wring your hands while saying that you get it. Social media won’t allow you to say one thing and then not act on it though. Nope, sorry. What is more likely to happen is that you will be exposed as someone who said all the right things but then let everything ‘go to you know where in a hand basket’ because it would be too hard or risky to actually do something. Good luck!

  • Josh Braaten

    Thanks for posting this EXCELLENT study. I’ve started putting out a social media update to my leadership team to convince them to embrace social media. Between studies like this and the extensive use of your excellent Trackur tool, I’m able to bring actionable information to my audience. Thanks a lot!
    .-= Josh Braaten´s last blog ..Internet Meetups for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Beyond =-.

  • Brian Fanslau

    Wow I don’t know how many execs I’ve spoken to over the past two months about this same thing. My ratio has been more to the effect of 75% are afraid of Social Media and just don’t know enough about it and are not willing to spend the time to learn it.

    They want the “magic bullet” when there is none. I always suggest to them to simply start slowly if they were not going to start at all or if they are of the 25% that I’ve spoken to and have begun building their “Personal Brand” ( extension of you, melding your character (strengths, talents, and vision) into a known entity that is recognized as an authority in your market.) They begin to see the results and benefits in less than a few weeks and are ahead of the “game”.

    Sooner or later everyone will recognize and hopefully delve into the social media ocean and discover more business and new friends than ever before.
    .-= Brian Fanslau´s last blog ..3 Questions Your Brand Story Must Answer =-.

  • Diane D. Stein

    I was glad to see that more executives are seeing the value of social media in the area of customer service. Today a customer can communicate their love or their hate for a company, service or product in the blink of an eye so today’s business owners need to be prepared to respond just as fast. Thanks for sharing such great information.
    .-= Diane D. Stein´s last blog ..How Did You Make Your Customers Feel? =-.

  • Joel Gross

    I would like to know who the 19% of Executives are that DO NOT believe social media can enhance relationships with their customers/clients OR build their brand reputation. I think a lot of these guys/gals are going to start changing their minds sooner than later. Every company needs a team focusing on social media even if it is a small team. The sad thing is many companies haven’t realized this yet.
    .-= Joel Gross´s last blog ..The Power of Outsourcing =-.

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  • Fencing in Nottingham

    its all well and good but what to do next

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