Monday, April 5, 2010

It's Not HAVING Platforms; It's USING Them Well!

Robert Collins retweeted the link to the 2010 Global Social Media Check-Up survey by Burton-Marsteller. Thanks, Bob! It has interesting data on how companies in the Fortune Global 100 are using social media. I took the data from the short version of the report.

Many of them do have Twitter (notice it’s first!) as well as Facebook, YouTube and their own corporate blogs. When they break it down by geography, it’s not surprising that US firms have more of everything (my sense is that the US is far ahead in the business use of social media) except YouTube. About as many European companies have YouTube accounts as US companies—interesting!

There’s interesting activity data on all 4 platforms, but the one on corporate blogs really caught my attention. The data from Europe and Asia seems reasonable. If you make posts, you generally get some comments, especially if your blogs provide information of value to your customers. Why so few posts in the US and so many comments? It has to do with the labeling in the chart. Here’s what Burton-Marsteller says:

For example, only 11% of U.S. corporate blogs had posts in the past month, but 90% of the blogs with posts had comments from stakeholders (Graph 7). So, while some corporate blogs have fallen into attrition, corporate blogs that are active and have a strong purpose and following provide a useful two-way dialogue for organizations and their stakeholders.

Ok, that makes sense. For me, actually it makes excellent sense. It’s about the maturity of the social media effort in the US and in the user corporations. Today’s eMarketer headline makes the same point: Longtime Twitter Users Most Vocal.

There’s also the issue of using any of the platforms well. Take blogging. I was recently asked why a corporate blog wasn’t getting much traffic. They were hoping to use it for acquisition as well as for customer support and retention, although I’m not sure they had stated it that precisely. So I asked if they had registered the blog on Technorati, at least. Not sure—he’d check. Do they use good tags? “No, we don’t take time to tag.” I tried to politely say that’s a BIG DUH! How can you take time to write a blog post and not take a few extra seconds to tag??? I also suggested that they use alt tags on their images. It’s a product-oriented blog, and having the search engines able to search images would be a big help.

As I’ve said so many times before, just having a corporate platform isn’t the answer. You have to use it, to monitor it, and to respond to deserving entries.

One more thing about the report. The short version has sidebars on social media activity in various countries. That’s a must read if you operate in any of these countries! Check it out; here’s the link to the full report.

Let me end with their 9-step checkup. None of this is new to readers of this blog, but it’s a good reminder. The check-up list is:

1. Monitor Your Own — And Competitors — Social Media Presence.
2. Get Top Management “Buy In.”
3. Develop a Social Media Strategy
4. Define and Publish a Social Media Policy.
5. Develop Internal Structure.
6. Contribute to the Community.
7. Participate in Good Times and in Bad. That’s worth some extra commentary. Here’s some of what the report says:

There will always be some situations where it is advisable to avoid participating, but generally speaking, negative content provides an opportunity for a company to share their point of view or set the record straight. Organizations must develop a process in advance that defines how and when they will respond to negative content or misinformation posted in social media.

8. Be Prepared to Respond in Real Time.
9. Measure the Impact of Social Media Engagement.

Good advice all!!!

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