Johannesburg - Hot on the heels of their customers, large corporate brands in South Africa have woken up to social media.
The South African Social Media Landscape 2012 study, released on Wednesday by technology market researchers World Wide Worx and information analysts Fuseware, shows that 95% of major corporations surveyed have some form of social media strategy aimed at consumers.
However, only 51% rate their efforts on Facebook as effective – and only 33% believe they are effective on Twitter.
“The survey shows that corporate South Africa has woken up to social media, but it hasn't yet figured out how to dress for the role,” said World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck.
“Most large companies are still neutral on the impact of social media, and are still feeling their way.”
The report includes an analysis of South African consumers’ use of Facebook, Twitter, Mxit, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Foursquare, as well as a survey conducted among corporate brand owners.
The headline findings of the consumer study were released at industry events in Johannesburg and Cape Town at the beginning of September, while the corporate findings are contained in the final report released on Wednesday, along with detailed analysis of consumer trends.
“We interviewed representatives of 61 major brands, and found that corporate use of social networks tended to be a case of responding to media hype,” said Fuseware managing director Mike Wronski.
“The most popular social media platform in South Africa, Mxit, is used as a marketing tool by only one out of five large brands. This compares to Facebook, with nine out 10 using it, and Youtube, with two out of three.”
Other key findings announced include:
• 49% of South African corporations surveyed leave social media in the hands of a marketing team, while 18% allocate it to public relations and a further 18% outsource it;
• The most commonly cited reason for using social media is as an effective PR channel, with 70% of brands using it for this purpose, while 62% use it as a core part of their marketing campaigns;
• Sales represent a key element of social media for corporations, with 43% using it for customer lead generation;
• Only 13% of companies are using social media specifically because their competitors are using it; and
• Most companies intend to make investments in training their current people in social media best practices. A full 36% intend to use specialist social media agencies to assist in their social media PR and marketing. Only 15% say their skills are optimal.
The survey shows that that corporate brands are also still getting to grips with how to measure their social media effectiveness.
While 74% use number of followers as a key measure on Twitter, only 24% measure the number of their own customers who are followers.
Similarly, while 72% measure effectiveness according to comments and mentions, only 40% consider Sentiment analysis, ie evaluating the positive or negative tone of the comments.
An even bigger gap is seen on Facebook, where 83% of brands live by comments and mentions, but only 37% use Sentiment analysis.
“The survey shows that companies haven’t quite figured out what is more important,” said Goldstuck. “It comes down to separating volume from value, and that takes time and energy, rather than just a dashboard of numbers.”
Wronski said: “When we asked companies what barriers were preventing marketers from getting more value out of social media, the most commonly cited was, ‘Time to properly manage these channels’.
"This is the largest bottleneck to social media success. Brands are struggling to allocate resources and time to manage social channels.”
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