Consumers aren't the only ones finding their way onto the popular social network sites. An increasing number of companies also use it, according to research from InSites Consulting, a market research company.
The research found that 80 percent of U.S. companies use Facebook, 45 percent have a Twitter account, 48 percent are present on LinkedIn, and 31 percent use YouTube. These numbers show that U.S. companies have evolved further in their social media usage that their European counterparts.
Four out of 10 U.S. companies listen to what consumers say about them on social network sites. "Social media makes conversations between consumers very transparent. Companies can quite easily discover what people are saying about their products and services. An increasingly growing group is strongly interested (and with good reason) in this real-time feedback from the market," said Steven Van Belleghem, partner at InSites Consulting, in a statement.
U.S. companies are very successful in answering questions via social media, with 83 percent claiming to always deal with questions or complaints sent to them via social media. Still, only 54 percent of the companies in this survey also talk to and actively participate in online conversations with consumers.
The survey showed that companies find it very important to be present on social network sites. However, this does not always mean their strategy in doing so is well thought-out. Only 11 percent of companies are integrating their social media approaches into their overall corporate strategies, while 17 percent are currently mid-integration. Twenty-six percent of U.S. companies are not doing anything on social media.
Integration is at similar levels compared to European companies. "A huge number of companies feel external pressure to be present on social media. Unfortunately this very often results in static corporate pages where nothing really happens. It too often leads to mere presence, not engagement with people. In doing so, companies create enthusiasm among their customers, which in the end turns into disappointment," Van Belleghem said in the statement.
Chances are that there will soon be a digital gap in the corporate world. This survey shows that companies already investing a lot in new media will do so even more in the future. Companies that are not investing much yet are not intending to do so. "Even though there is a clear digital evolution and pull among clients, there are still companies that are not convinced that they too have to go with the evolution. The risk for these companies is that, in a rather short term, they will miss out on an important target group in their markets. It is time for these companies to observe, facilitate, and join these conversations through consumer consulting boards or social media observation techniques," Van Belleghem concluded.