Forrester report: how companies listen and engage with social media

Image from Flickr courtesy of sfllaw

Forrester Consulting recently surveyed 200 US marketers about their use of social media listening and engagement. (The report, commissioned by Dell-commissioned is available to read here.)

Some of the most interesting findings include:

  • Information sourced by social media is now being used by more than 70% of B2B decision-makers.
  • Interestingly, there is a significant uptake of companies adopting social media tactics (97%), but there is a plenty of opportunity for business returns to be improved.
  • However, strategic social media is not being used extensively. Only 8% of the surveyed marketers claimed that their listening and engagement work is tied to corporate objectives.

Forrester identified that there are clear and unique approaches to social media monitoring and listening that depend on the company’s industry:

  • Utilities, banking and services are least developed, using listening for customer service and to drive brand awareness. Security and privacy concerns pose challenges to these sectors.
  • Media, entertainment and leisure companies, who are further along the social media curve, focus their social media metrics on reach. Here the measurements are likely to be for the number of ‘fans’ or ‘likes’, which is
  • High-tech companies are geared towards lead-generation, which Forrester claim to place them as the most advanced on the social-media curve. By using real business metrics for measurement, these companies are also the ones facing the most challenges, as their efforts increase in complexity.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Programs which receive executive sponsorship are the most likely to succeed and deliver results.
  • Integration is essential to maximise ROI. Combining the information gathered from listening with existing customer data, systems and processes will allow companies to see the “big picture” of the effects on their business.
  • Employee empowerment is crucial, to maximise existing resources, training and education is needed to allow employees to listen and engage in their day-to-day work, in a consistent way.

Integration is definitely one aspect that will become more and more important. As companies gain confidence in the potential for social media to offer more than a marketing channel and embrace using it across the entire business (from customer support to internal communications), the volume of information available will certainly be a game-changer.