King Fish Media’s 2010 Social Media Usage, Attitudes and Measurability report (done in conjunction with Junta 42 and Hubspot) is available here. The report is solid*, and you should definitely download it.
Now, let me share what I think is the most disturbing aspect of it.
Some numbers from the report itself:
Nearly three quarters of all companies surveyed (72%) claim to currently have a social media strategy, and of those that don’t, the vast majority (80%) will within the next year.
85% of companies are handling their social media efforts internally.
So far so good, right? Right. Now check this out:
43% of respondents revealed that they don’t need to show positive ROI to get social media funding from their organization.
Only 9% of surveyed organizations have full-time positions dedicated to managing social media responsibilities, while 90% include those as part of someone’s overall responsibilities.
So let me recap in case you missed it:
1. Of the 72% of companies with a Social Media program, only 9% have a professional managing these programs full time. (This is dismal.)
2. 43% of all companies surveyed feel that positive R.O.I. isn’t required to obtain funding for their Social Media program. Is it any surprise then, that only 9% of companies with Social Media programs have budgets robust enough to actually retain full time professional staff?
First things first: If you can’t afford even one full time person to run a company-wide program, you don’t have a program budget yet. In other words, your “funding” is inadequate.
Second, if you don’t have someone who can manage your “program,” it won’t go anywhere. Don’t kid yourself about this. You might dabble in the Social Media space, but without a program manager, you don’t have a Social Media program. Or a strategy you can actually put into action. (“We’re on Facebook” is not a strategy.)
Third, now that we’ve established that you don’t in fact have a budget, the reason why your program isn’t getting funded is this: You haven’t properly addressed R.O.I. – The return your company should expect from the investment in your program: In other words, financial gains from the budget you need to actually build a program beyond the cost of the investment.
Fact: If you had properly addressed R.O.I., you would have secured a budget, your program would have qualified full-time staff, and you might already be getting somewhere. Ford is an example of this. Starbucks and Dell as well.
If the executives you answer to see you only as a cost center, forget about getting adequate funding. Without a clear plan to calculate (or even produce) return on investment, you are little more than a cost center. Your contribution to the business is considered to be incidental – at best. Given Social Media’s mostly unproven track record yet, good luck getting a whole lot done in the next twelve months.
Here’s a little dose of reality: You can gauge the perceived importance of a program from the budget assigned to it. Here’s how it works:
Big budget = the program is important to the organization.
Little or no budget = the program is barely on a VP’s radar.
Top-quality staff = the program is important to the organization.
No staff = nobody cares.
There is no mystery to this.
It isn’t enough to just say you have a social media program or strategy when someone asks you. I know it feels nice. I get it. It makes you feel like you’re in the game. It makes the board and the executive suite and the investors happy. But look, “we’re testing the waters right now” isn’t a program or a strategy. “We don’t have a full time person on this project” isn’t a program or a strategy. “We don’t need to worry about R.O.I.” isn’t a program or a strategy. If you think you actually have a program, you are kidding yourself.
A full 6 out of 7 out of the companies with Social Media programs don’t fund a full time role for that program?
Less than half of these companies even worry about tying positive R.O.I. to their Social Media strategy?
So much for taking the space and the opportunities it brings seriously.
Look, there’s a reason why companies that invest in Social Media, hire the best professionals in the business and take R.O.I. seriously are seeing stellar results, and why companies that simply pretend to be in the space get nowhere.
*Granted, there are some problems with the report itself:
1. A whopping 77% of the companies surveyed in the report have 50 employees or less. Only 3% have 500-1000 employees.
2. 52% of the companies surveyed are in the media/marketing/advertising/publishing industry. Not just marketing professionals within companies, but actual media and marketing companies. Half of the surveyed companies.
3. Only 10% of surveyed companies are purely B2C. 50% of surveyed companies are B2B, with 83% being a combination of B2B and B2C.
Perhaps the report should instead be called the “2010 small business Social media Usage Report,” or perhaps the “2010 mostly B2B SMB Social Media Usage report,” or even the 2010 small marketing firm and other SMB Social Media Usage Report?”
Eh. It’s a good effort. Not perfect, but worth the download nonetheless. Just make sure you understand the context and limitation of the data before reading too much into it.
One last thought:
With 52% of the surveyed companies being marketing service providers – including ad agencies – how is it that only 9% among surveyed companies with Social Media programs have a full time SM person on staff? I would have expected a larger percentage here. This raises questions about marketing firms and ad agencies’ ability to properly service their clients in the Social Media space, in terms of both strategy and execution on campaigns. How can they do this without adequate expertise on staff?
Food for thought.