Social Media Expectations vs. Reality

Some businesses do social media very, very well: from major corporations including Ford and Hasbro to smaller, eager outfits like Zappos, social media has found itself a favorite tool among many. Research from McKinsey Quarterly indicates that businesses using “collaborative Web 2.0 technologies, or social media, are reaping the benefits with higher profits.” Despite this, however, there tends to be a disconnect between the expectations of social media and what it delivers in terms of brand, according to a study of almost 2000 senior executives. What does this mean for businesses and their social strategies?

According to a study conducted by Weber Shandwick and Forbes Insights, which looked at senior level managers from highly successful companies in 50 countries. Weber’s president of digital communications, Chris Perry, found, “There is a disconnect between theory and reality when it comes to socialising a brand. To be a fully socialised brand, leaders need a blueprint.” Most of the executives did indeed have a “blueprint,” but an astonishing 84 percent did not think their efforts would rank as “world class brand standards” at present.

Other important findings include:

  • Most executives felt that social media was an important tool for shaping brand reputation.
  • Executives felt that social media’s contribution to brand reputation could be quantified at about 65 percent.
  • Nearly all (97 percent) of companies were using at least one social media platform.
  • 63 percent of companies “fully integrated” Web 2.0 platforms into marketing and communications efforts.
  • 71 percent had a social media strategist dedicated to that realm.
  • 41 percent coordinated social efforts from a single department.
  • Going forward, executives plan to focus on mobile.
  • Social media was most often used for boosting consumer loyalty and brand recognition, reaching new buyers, improving customer service, and quickly disseminating information.

The disconnect, according to Perry, comes as executives focus on external forces rather than on internal planning. They tend to see factors such as the number of likes they have on Facebook or followers they have on Twitter as indicative of the success or failure of a strategy. However, it is much more vital that a company concentrate on strategy, planning, achieving a cohesive message, and being comfortable and confident in the digital arena. “…internal focus and consistency of vision are areas where substantial improvements must be made by most brands.”

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