Social Media Provides Hit for Global Corporations

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<p><strong>Chicago &mdash; April 4</strong><br />Research organization Melcrum has announced the preliminary findings of the first survey into social media adoption by large corporations worldwide. </p><p>More than 2,100 executives responded about how blogs, podcasts, wikis and other collaborative technologies are being used to communicate with employees and customers.</p><p>Much of the hype regarding social media so far has centered on the adoption of blogging as a business tool for communicating with customers and staff. </p><p>The majority of respondents (55 percent) were already using blogs or planning to start in the next 12 months, but even more popular was online video (63 percent) through video-sharing services such as YouTube.<br /><br />Also increasingly popular were podcasts (43 percent), RSS/webfeeds (51 percent) and social networks such as LinkedIn (41 percent).<br /><br />&quot;Big business has taken note of the popularity of sites like MySpace, YouTube and Bebo and is beginning to figure out how to integrate the same functionality and networking tools with their corporate intranets,&quot; Melcrum Managing Director Robin Crumby said. <br /><br />The survey also highlighted major discrepancies between the hype and the reality of social media adoption, with 73 percent of respondents having no intention of implementing 3-D Web tools like Second Life for their<br />businesses.<br /><br />When internal communicators were asked about the top two perceived benefits of social media for their organizations, 71 percent selected &quot;improved<br />employee engagement.&quot; Fifty-nine percent said &quot;improved internal collaboration,&quot; and 47 percent chose &quot;creating a two-way dialogue with senior executives.&quot;</p><p>&quot;The next generation of employees entering the<br />workforce will expect to be able to have their say and network with their peers online,&quot; Crumby said. &quot;Corporations are preparing for this now. By<br />encouraging staff and customers to get involved and build communities around their brands, companies know that they can get better results in terms of staff productivity and engagement but also customer retention<br />and acquisition.&quot;<br /><br />While there is widespread enthusiasm for social media in the corporate world, 45 percent of respondents agreed that employees discussing their organization online posed a significant risk to its reputation. </p><p>And yet, 70 percent admitted that they had no guidelines or policies relating to blogging or other social-media tools.<br /><br />Even more worrying was that only 26 percent were sure how to monitor what was being said about their organizations, industry or products online.<br /><br />&quot;Smart organizations like the BBC, Sun Microsystems and IBM&nbsp; are encouraging their staff to blog and participate in online forums while educating them about the dos and<br />don&#39;ts, thereby minimizing the risk of libel suits,&quot; Crumby said.<br /><br />While only a third of communicators described social media as a priority now, 41 percent reported that they were committed to two-way communication with employees/customers online, and 52 percent anticipated their social-media budgets increasing over the next 12 months.<br /><br />When asked about the barriers for further adoption, 23 percent of respondents highlighted gaining executive support as a key challenge, along with 13 percent reporting IT constraints and restrictions.<br /><br />&quot;It seems likely that social media is here to stay, and the key challenge for corporations is likely to be how they<br />integrate these new technologies into their existing media mix,&quot; Crumby said.</p>

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