Jan 242012

Last week I came across a new survey on corporate social media adoption. It was published by SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. To my read it contained both encouraging and sobering statistics on how companies are trying to incorporate social media into their operations.

The survey universe was a randomized sampling of 532 recruiting and staffing personnel in various industry sectors. The survey announcement led with the positive sounding statistic that 55% of surveyed employers planned to increase their social media activities in 2012. Some other results called out by SHRM:

  • More than one-quarter (28%) of organizations have a social media strategy. Larger organizations and those with multinational locations are more likely to have a social media strategy than smaller employers and those with U.S.-based operations.
  • Organizations with social media policies rely on their HR department to create (43%) and enforce those policies (44%).
  • Besides marketing departments (35%), information technology (17%), HR (14%), and management (14%) lead social media efforts at organizations.
  • More than a third (39%) monitor their employees’ social media use on company-owned computers and handheld devices.
  • A third of employers (33%) with a social media policy have disciplined an employee who violated the social media policy in the past year.

Here are some findings that jumped out at me:

  • Almost three quarters (72%) of organizations DO NOT have a social media strategy (the other way of presenting point #1 above).
  • 72% of respondents with companies that had social media activities said the strategy was not clear (strategy needs to come before tactics).
  • Only 50% of respondents said they monitor social media mentions of their organization (listening comes first with social media, and its easy to do).
  • 79% of companies engaged in social media are not measuring the ROI (seems incredible to me).
  • Only 14% of respondents said they outsource any part of their social media activities (not an exciting stat for my firm)!

Here’s the SlideShare of the full survey courtesy of SHRM:

My firm is most successful when the PR/Communications staff inside a client company leads social media activities. (PR is almost certainly a subset of the Marketing percentage in the study). It’s communicators who have the most experience telling a compelling story and modulating that story to suit specific audiences.

Content marketing strategies that promote quality content via highly targeted social media channels are the secret to success for my b2b and b2g clients. And they demand and receive quantifiable ROI.

Human resource professionals are SHRM’s most important audience with this study, and if I was one I’d be a little worried reading the percentages. Marketing/PR departments get to lead social media activities and (in some cases) demonstrate ROI for the organization. The HR department gets to police internal social media use and punish employees who break the rules.

Not a recipe for job satisfaction in my book.

  One Response to “Survey of Social Media Adoption Shows Mixed Bag”

  1. I’ll share the same thoughts here that I shared on another post that reflected on this research:

    I was initially intrigued by these results, but then I read the details about the sample. I suggest folks interpret the study’s findings with extreme caution, for three reasons:

    1. The sample size is fairly small (~500)
    2. The respondents were from the recruiting/staffing function exclusively
    3. The data is almost a year old (collected from 12/10 to 02/11)

    Given these limitations, the results should not be assumed to be either reliable or representative. They can offer great food for thought and discussion, but they shouldn’t be interpreted too literally…

    Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community

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