Companies Continue to Struggle Managing Their Social Media

Today’s post is a guest post from Joe Cox, Marketing Director at SocialVolt, a Social: IRL sponsor offering web-based social media management solutions for companies and agencies that integrate engagement, brand monitoring, campaigns, influencer management, and compliance. 

Join SocialVolt’s Joe Cox and Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang on February 15 to discuss the findings from this report in more depth. Attendees will walk away with a great guide for how to effectively implement a corporate social media strategy. Click here to register for this free webcast.

A new report from Jeremiah Owyang and the brilliant folks over at Altimeter Group warns companies of the real threat of being buried by the proliferation of social media.  The report states, “Beyond coordination challenges, unchecked accounts and disparate customer interactions expose brands to a host of legal, compliance, and fragmented brand-perception risks.”

The study found that global corporations are struggling to manage an average of 178 business-related social media accounts.  No, that is not a typo – I said 178 business-related social media accounts!  To be even more clear, these are not personal accounts, but all accounts opened by the company.

Here’s the breakdown:

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

At first glance, this stat can be hard to fully grasp or even believe, but with large brands, the accounts can rack up with blinding speed even after only a few years of being active in the social space.

Let me give you a good example:

When I was working as a field marketer at a large beverage company in 2009, my peers and I began creating local Facebook and Twitter accounts for each large city in which we were actively holding events, had sampling teams, had conducted influencer outreach, etc.

Within a year, we had more than 100 disparate accounts with no coordination among each other before corporate decided to combine all of this activity into one single brand account on both Facebook and Twitter.

Within a month, we had abandoned all those local accounts…but what happened to them?  Were they all shut down?  I have a sneaking suspicion that most are still out there, un-manned ghost ships floating about in the social void.  Could those accounts be a risk for the company?  Certainly.

Remember that this example is only one brand, and only in the United States.  You can see how companies with multiple brands and products, multiple locations, and even separately run marketing teams in different countries can start collecting this social dust like a Swiffer.

If you don’t have goals and objectives, you are winging it.

My favorite part of the report is that, on average, 70% of enterprises asked said that their social media efforts were meeting business objectives.  That’s great news, right?  But wait, there’s more.  Only 43% of the same brands asked said that they actually had formalized goals and objectives for their social media teams.

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

This is critical in understanding why businesses are having such trouble managing their social efforts.  Without putting a stake in the ground, without goals and objectives being set before campaigns and quarterly plans kick-off, there’s no way to determine the success of said campaigns.  It becomes almost laughably clear when the data is compared on Altimeter’s report, but this detachment is incredibly easy for large corporations to fall into when they are managing so many teams, brands, accounts, etc.  This is summed up very clearly in Altimeter’s report:  “This symptom of ‘fire, ready, aim’ will continue as new business units within the corporation continue to adopt social technologies – this is just the start.”  Basically, the problem is only going to get bigger, so put your foot down now and commit to a proper social media infrastructure before it becomes more complicated, more expensive, and potentially brand-damaging.

Time on screen isn’t scalable, but social media management systems (SMMS) are.

Company wide coordination with social media efforts is a challenge for companies and large brands, but it’s the key to success.  The study points out that less than half of all companies have a coordinated approach to company-wide social media deployments.

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

The problem lies with the breakneck pace adoption rate.  Social media adoption has grown at a disproportional rate compared to the tools to manage it, and that has directly led to companies not keeping pace with their social media accounts.

In the report, Elizabeth Rizzo, director of interactive strategies at SHIFT Communications said, “When publishing through these platforms you often can’t stay on top of all these messages and can’t tell what’s been responded to.”  Because brands can’t be everywhere at once and often don’t have the tools in place to help streamline that process, they quickly become drowned in reactive online behavior and lose the ability to get a grip on the big picture.

With an infrastructure, goals, and objectives in place, enterprises will begin to rely more heavily on social media management systems to untangle and streamline their efforts.

Join SocialVolt and our guest Jeremiah Owyang for a webcast on February 15, to further discuss these and many more of the social media issues facing corporations.  You may register for the webcast here.


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