Social Media's Potential to Impact Bottom Line Largely Untapped

Despite its vast potential, many companies have yet to capitalise on social media's ability to not only listen to customers, but analyse conversations and turn the information into bottom-line benefit. Many organisations cling to old paradigms, using social media for one-way flow of marketing messages, instead of capitalising on the opportunity to monitor, analyse, and participate in millions of conversations among consumers.


A survey of 2100 companies, sponsored by SAS, reveals that 75% of companies surveyed did not know where their most valuable customers were talking about them.  Thirty-one percent do not measure effectiveness of social media and only 23% use social media analytic tools.  A mere 7% are integrating social media into marketing activities


Overall, companies continue to search for ways to gauge and demonstrate social media's contribution to the bottom line.



Using, But Not Exploiting


More than half the companies that responded are using social media. But only one quarter know where their most valuable customers are "talking" about them. Even fewer are applying social media analytic tools. Almost none have attempted customer sentiment analysis. Just 7% are trying to integrate social media into overall marketing strategy, such as campaign management, retail analytics, CRM and business intelligence.

"Companies are missing the chance to effectively market products and manage their reputations," says author and analytics expert Tom Davenport. "They don't know who's talking about their brands, products or services, let alone the positive and negative sentiments. They can't judge the influence of someone praising or criticizing them, nor can they test brand messages, videos, etc. In short, they're missing marketing opportunities."


Perception vs. Proof Among Users


According to the report, many organisations seem more focused on “making noise” than understanding and participating in ongoing conversations about them. Half the companies using social media see increasing awareness of the organisation and its products and services as the major benefit. Yet only a quarter thinks it’s working – a perception possibly constrained by the low use of analytic tools.  Another 30% look to increase traffic to their websites, but, only 29% report collecting and tracking customer reviews online. It is striking that more accountable benefits are far lower down the list.


While 23% agreed social media helped them monitor what was being said, few described measuring the frequency of discussion about the organisation as a current benefit. Only 18% could identify positive and negative comments.


The Benefits Loom Large


Looking to the future, 36% of companies surveyed plan to conduct customer sentiment analysis in the next two to three years. Some 33% are planning social monitoring solutions, 27% want predictive analytics and 26% will measure the impact of online conversations. Many hope to integrate social media monitoring with other marketing solutions, to understand not just what is being said, but who is saying it and its impact.





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