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New research reveals worrying management gap in social media

03 November 2014 | 04:07 am

Research has revealed a worrying gap in social media managementWe were interested to read on TechWeekEurope, about a piece of research conducted in the UK on perceptions of the role and management of social media.

The research was carried out by Source for Consulting in partnership with Advanced Business Solutions across 160 ‘mid-market’ UK organisations. And we commend them for approaching Finance, HR and IT staff from across the organisations, rather than the usual default position to the marketing team!

Social media is no longer the sole responsibility of the marketing communications team. IT directors are getting more involved and a previous blog about the ‘white elephant in social media delivery’ by our CTO Marc Harris certainly stirred up debate about where the buck stops with social media when it comes to creating the infrastructure and managing the risks of delivery.

The survey reported that 86% of organisations use social media to promote themselves. We don’t think any sensible business head would be surprised with that stat?

In fact, when social media channels first opened for business, most leapt on it, treating it as the holy grail of promotion and we saw some terrifying soap box style sales messaging, forcing the likes of Twitter to respond by blocking accounts for spamming, to ensure that the whole ecosystem didn't get clogged up.

However, even back in the early days, some were trailblazing on social media by NOT using it for promotion! The public sector and in particular the police, calmly sat back and listened to the social media channels, understanding that it was a rich source of information and that on occasion to be waiting to be spoken to was a more polite way of social engagement.

With this in mind it was really encouraging to read that today, of those surveyed 75% stated that they understood what was being said about them i.e. listened.  Naturally, we do share concern over what the other 25% are doing, by definition living in ignorance of the status quo but the figure was higher than we would have predicted in comparison to 2013.

Again, no surprises around the use of social media as a customer service function (69%).  The pundits predict that 2015 will be the year of innovation around customer service on social media across the UK.

So with all the stats reporting a dramatic increase in social media activity we were predicting some big scores on the doors when it came to social media management!

Surely, all these proactive organisations, who are getting stuck in to promotion, research and customer service must have a pretty impressive infrastructure and management of the situation?

Apparently not!

Only 17% of the 160 organisations (just 27) used social media tools such as enterprise software to collaborate, share information and receive internal messages.   We find it hard to believe that with all the heightened activity, some organisations are still relying on the odd free public (and less than secure) app, coupled with manually logging in and out of multiple accounts to post and share content.

An organisation with one or two accounts may just about get away with this approach for posts out but are never going to be able to manually listen across the increasing array of social media channels for brand messages and customer conversations.

Plus, the inefficiencies across a team of this approach are staggering, particularly when you are looking at teams based across multiple departments or geographies.  Not only the replication of effort but the lack of coordination in sharing good content or reacting to crisis lends itself to some pretty impressive and damaging reputation breeches.

Recently, we met a team who admitted that 26 emails had been sent back and forth between 8 members of staff (some over a weekend) to try to deal with a customer service enquiry that came in by tweet!  Without a social media management tool in place, they didn't know who to direct the content of the tweet to, who was responsible for creating the tweet or where the authorisation procedure sat in case it became a crisis situation.  The issue took 8 days to deal with, hardly award winning customer service and staggeringly inefficient for a customer service centric brand.

The good news is that they, like many, are aware of the inefficiency and are embracing the new era in which we operate by training their team and licensing software (ours we hope).

The survey reports that 69% believed that using social media effectively would cut down on unnecessary email. Agreed! So why aren't the other 133 organisations making it easier for their teams to use social media well?

Simon Fowler, MD of Advanced Business Solutions is quoted as saying:

“Although social media is widely used for sales, marketing and customer services, it is not as well established as a means of optimising productivity by improving employee collaboration.”

We agree with Simon and are grateful that he is championing the cause.  Perhaps we should declare 2015, the year of social productivity?

You wouldn’t go to sea without a life jacket so don't get social, without the necessary infrastructure in place to do it well!

James Leavesley MBA

CEO CrowdControlHQ

CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform, built for enterprise.  Our online software is supported by an award winning customer service team to ensure that our clients achieve their social media objectives effectively.