52% of Companies Using Social Media are Operating Without a Social Strategy

In a May 2010 study, Digital Brand Expressions found that while 78% of companies are actively using social media sites, a surprising 52% of these social marketers are operating “without a game plan” (similar to the 50% found in an April 2010 study by R2integrated).

Companies with a social media communications plan tended to focus on these elements: resource-allocation guidelines for ongoing activities, registration of branded usernames on social sites and research into competitors’ use of social media, as reported on eMarketer.

There was a significant disparity between what respondents thought should be part of their company’s plan and what was actually part of that plan. 71% of respondents were concerned with preparing and distributing policies for ongoing communications, but only 45% of companies had such policies. Respondents were equally concerned with the ongoing monitoring of brand reputation, at 71%, but only 52% had a plan for such activities. More than two-thirds of respondents saw a need for departmental protocols detailing how social sites should be used by sales, human resources, customer service and other groups within the company, but only 29% reported distributing policies and/or communications protocols to employees.

A majority of companies with a social strategy included marketing (94%), PR (71%) and sales (55%) in their plans, with customer service (26%) and human resources (16%) lagging behind in use of social media. 71% of respondents agreed that the responsibility for creating social media strategies should fall to marketing departments.

Findings suggest that companies that have held back on adopting social media throughout their organizations would benefit from starting with a cohesive plan that involves all of the key groups within the organization (marketing, PR, sales, customer service, and human resources).