just released the results of a study on social media usage by business professionals. The big data points that stuck out for me:

  1. The average company in this study was planning, developing or running seven(!!!!) different social media initiatives
  2. Facebook is the social media platform of choice for the majority of respondents, but I suspect that most are not using it for business reasons.

Here are the high level findings:

  • Webinars and podcasts are top social media resources for business professionals, used by 69% of those who turn to social media channels for business information. Time to launch my webinar business!

  • Facebook is the dominant social network on which consumer-focused companies maintain one or more profiles, cited by 83% of respondents versus 45% for Twitter.
    You can’t play Farmville on Twitter…yet

  • Business-to-business (B2B) companies, however, maintain a presence on both platforms with 77% maintaining a profile on Facebook and 73% on Twitter.  For a number of reasons I feel like Twitter is just a better business platform than FB and this kind of suggests that

  • Current trends to restrict access to social networks like Facebook or Twitter at work need to be re-thought in light of the business value in such activity.

    • Among respondents using social media for business purposes in their day-to-day jobs, 62% visit company or brand profiles on social networking sites and 55% search for business information on these sites.
      Of course since business is like gambling, searching for Texas Hold ‘Em Poker on Facebook can be classified as searching for business information.
  • Consultants and marketing communications professionals are the most active users of social media as a resource for business information, particularly in micro (<10 employees) and small businesses (10-99 employees). IT professionals have the lowest participation rate IT pros always know better right?

  • Both companies and employees are scaling a massive learning curve with social media.

    • The average company in this study was planning, developing or running seven different social media initiatives; 65% of respondents staffing those initiatives, and 71% of companies themselves, have less than two years of experience with social media for business.
      I just don’t believe this stat – or else they asked the question so that sending emails to customers counted as a social media initiative, etc.

  • Building brand awareness and brand reputation are two of the top social media success metrics, but nearly two-thirds of companies focused on these metrics have little to no insight into performance via standard or easily accessible reports.
    And that is why there is a big business in managing online reputations for SMBs and providing easy to understand ROI metrics on all online marketing initiatives.

Get the full study here

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3 Response Comments

  • Ben Hanna  November 5, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Great overview of the study, Andrew. Wanted to throw in my $0.02 on a couple of points:

    * Average company running seven different social media initiatives – Yes, this was a shocker to us as well. In the study, respondents who indicated that they worked for a company planning, developing or running one or more social media initiatives were given a list of 14 different initiative types (e.g.,maintaining a business profile on social networking sites, managing a company blog, participating in online Q&A, etc.) and asked to indicate which of theses, if any, their company was currently involved with. I can assure everyone that email wasn’t an option. 😉 We cleaned the data pretty before assembling the report so I take this finding to indicate most companies involved in social media aren’t tiptoeing in but are jumping in with both feet. Combine this with the facts that 65% of the respondents involved in managing these initaitives have less than 2 years experience with social media for business, and 90% spend less than half their work time on social media, and you really start to worry that companies are over-extending themselves in a way that could impact performance.

    * Use of Facebook for business – Throughout the study we were careful to repeatedly remind people that this was a study about social media for business. In this case, study participants indicating their company maintained one or more profiles on social media sites were asked “On which of the following social media sites does your company currently maintain one or more company accounts or profiles?”. There may have been some who misinterpreted among the 1,197 respondents to this question, but I don’t think enough to sway the results.

    * B2B / B2C differences in business profiles on social media sites – I think this is a really interesting difference. Similar to the results of MarketingSherpa’s Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Survey 2008, we found that B2B companies were simply more active with social media across the board, and they’re certainly gravitating to Twitter much more so than B2C companies. More on this in a B2B-specific report we’ll release in a few weeks.

    Glad you found the study interesting and I’m happy to respond to additional questions you or your readers may have about the results.


  • Andrew Shotland  November 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks for clarifying this stuff Ben.