The number of companies using Facebook to react to customer issues and enquiries has increased dramatically in the last year, new research into social media has found.
Companies have moved from experimentation with social media marketing to a range of activities which are more likely to be integrated with other marketing channels and across business functions, according to The State of Social Report 2011.
Published in partnership with LBi and bigmouthmedia, the study found that almost two thirds of companies say they are now beyond the experimental phase compared to 54% a year ago. The report is based on an online survey of more than 1,000 businesses carried out in September and October 2011.
Since last year, companies surveyed are much more likely to be using Facebook and Twitter for a range of different purposes, including for marketing and publishing new content but increasingly for customer service and getting customer feedback and market intelligence.
More than half of company respondents – 52% - say their organisations use Facebook for reacting to customer issues and inquiries compared to only 29% last year. Similarly, half of companies now use Twitter for customer service, compared to only 35% in 2010. Half of organisations (51%) are also using Facebook for gathering customer feedback, compared to 37% last year.
Econsultancy's Research Manager, Aliya Zaidi, said: “The findings show a change in social media focus. In the last year, more companies have set up a presence on social media channels and in some cases, social media has become a priority as organisations have started to see the potential benefits.”
“Where previously the focus for companies was on getting started with social media, more marketers are now focused on optimising their social media strategies by heightening engagement and listening and responding more effectively across social media channels,” Zaidi added.
Lyndsay Menzies, CEO of bigmouthmedia and CMO of LBI International N.V., said: “Social media has moved well beyond the land-grab phase and this latest research underlines the fact that brands are now taking this seriously and embracing the opportunity that this presents to connect to their customer base. The increasing convergence of the channels, in particular search and social media, is fuelling adoption as awareness, advocacy and acquisition become intrinsically linked.”
The trend expected to have the biggest impact over the next year is the increased use of mobile and smart devices such as tablets. The smartphone is overwhelmingly deemed to be the ‘most persuasive’ device for social media, according to almost three quarters of respondents. Significantly fewer respondents cite other devices, such as the laptop, tablet and desktop computer.