BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Senior marketing executives in several countries agree that the use of social media for corporate, brand and product marketing is not a passing fad, according to research sponsored by TNS media intelligence/Cymfony. In fact, nearly 50% believe it is a vital component of corporate communications that should be monitored at the executive level and allocated significant resources.
The responses of the marketing executives surveyed show that companies are taking social media seriously. Beyond the need for C-level support, another 30% see social media as an unconventional new opportunity that businesses must grasp with a sense of urgency. In addition, 95% believe social media will grow in significance over the next five years. When asked about the uses of social media, respondents endorsed it as a strategic tool to gain consumer insights (37%), build brand awareness (21%) and increase customer loyalty (18%).
Revolutionaries Pull Ahead of the Wait-and-Sees
The survey reveals that the early adopters (“Revolutionaries”) are more advanced in their understanding and execution of social media marketing initiatives than more cautious marketers (“Wait-and-Sees”). First, nearly five times as many Revolutionaries are already implementing social media in their organizations and three times as many Wait-and-See companies are only at the learning stage. In addition, Revolutionaries are far more optimistic about the future of social media with 81% saying it will grow in significance over the next five years. Only 33% of the Wait-and-Sees agreed with this outlook.
When asked about how they would use social media to influence their marketing initiatives, Wait-and-See companies put more emphasis on using social media for new types of marketing campaigns such as viral marketing and videos, while Revolutionaries focus more on listening to consumer and bloggers’ points-of-view. One area where they were in accordance was that both Revolutionaries (95%) and Wait-and-Sees (60%) are eager to connect with other colleagues to study consumer feedback and learn from it.
“The survey results show that most marketers think that social media is another media channel that companies can use to push their messages through,” said Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer of TNS media intelligence/Cymfony. “The Revolutionaries have a more sophisticated approach to creating stronger relationships with consumers and as a result are gaining a competitive advantage.”
Influencing Consumers: Listen, then Act
The potential business impact of social media was similar from country to country, but the U.S. has a stronger point-of-view on the value of market research in social media. For instance, 88% of U.S. respondents and 65% of global respondents were in agreement that reading and analyzing social media to understand unfiltered consumer perceptions would have the most impact on the future of their businesses. Word-of-mouth campaigns were cited as having the second greatest impact. All countries were in broad accordance at 62%, but the U.S. once again led with three-quarters agreeing on the effects of these marketing campaigns.
Respondents endorse the role blogs and other social media channels play in an integrated product launch campaign. The potentially most effective use of social media, chosen by more than 50%, is creating a user community of bloggers to provide user experience feedback. Another 47% believe using social media vehicles, such as YouTube, to generate a viral campaign would also be very effective in a product launch. Specifically in the U.S., more respondents support the idea of utilizing social media to boost the effectiveness of their social media efforts than their global counterparts.
Social Media Management: Organizational Barriers Slow Progress
Leading barriers identified by respondents were lack of senior management commitment and best practices followed by the absence of controls, standardization, time and resources. For example, when asked to create a title for a senior position to manage long-term business opportunities afforded by social media respondents struggled. This reaction revealed that companies are uncertain about how to manage social media initiatives within their organization.
Respondents also criticized marketing service suppliers for not providing sufficient expertise to help businesses understand and exploit blogs and social networks. They noted that many agencies lack practical experience in social media initiatives and tend to apply traditional tactics that may not be effective in this emerging media space.
“This study reveals a tremendous shift in the public relations and marketing professions,” said Jen McClure, executive director, Society for New Communications Research. “Communications professionals have a real opportunity to increase their strategic importance. At the same time, companies and other organizations need to take a hard look at their cultures and ready themselves for this new approach to communications.”
For the full research report, or to share ideas about social media with other marketers on TNS media intelligence/Cymfony’s “Social Media in Business” Facebook group, please visit www.SocialMediaInBusiness.com.
About the research
In late 2007, TNS media intelligence/Cymfony, in coordination with TNS UK, TNS media intelligence France and TNS Canadian Facts, conducted a survey dubbed, “Harnessing Influence: How Savvy Brands are Unleashing the New Power of Blogs and other Social Media.” Speaking with executives from companies like Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Hyundai, and GlaxoSmithKline, TNS media intelligence/Cymfony polled 70+ marketers around the globe about their experiences incorporating all types of social media tools in their marketing strategies. Represented countries include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and France.
About TNS media intelligence/Cymfony
TNS media intelligence/Cymfony tells brands and companies what people are saying about them - whether the people are bloggers, traditional journalists or even influential consumers. TNS media intelligence/Cymfony sifts and interprets the millions of voices at the intersection of traditional and social media to gain insights that help companies identify the people, keep on top of the issues and respond to the trends impacting their business - at the speed of the market. We call this approach to harnessing this new dynamic "market influence analytics."
TNS media intelligence/Cymfony pioneered the innovative technology to extract meaning from high volumes and diverse sources of text. U.S. intelligence agencies have been relying on our technology for more than eight years. We are an innovator in the integration of social and traditional media, offering access to the greatest breadth of content sources and analytical expertise.
TNS is a global market insight and information group. Our strategic goal is to be recognized as the global leader in delivering value-added information and insights that help our clients to make more effective decisions.
As industry thought leaders, our people deliver innovative thinking and excellent service to global organizations and local clients worldwide. We work in partnership with our clients, meeting their needs for high-quality information, analysis and foresight across our network of over 70 countries.
We are the world’s foremost provider of custom research and analysis, combining in-depth industry sector understanding with world-class expertise in the areas of Retail and Shopper Insights, Stakeholder Management, New Product Development, and Brand and Communications. We are a major supplier of consumer panel, media intelligence and internet, TV and radio audience measurement services.
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