At least that’s the impression I came away with after seeing the results from a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.
The study, analyzed in the report An Examination of How Social Media Is Embedded in Business Strategy and Operations Survey Findings, was the final component of a four-part series of surveys examining various aspects of social media use in the workplace. While the emphasis of this survey centered on the human resource aspects of social media, the findings did include some broader business implications, as well.
For example, on the plus side, more than half (55 percent) of the companies surveyed indicated that social media activities would play a greater role in their overall business strategies. Conversely, however, less than one-third (28 percent) have developed any form of social media strategy, and only four in 10 reported having established social media policies. Of those organizations that do have policies for social media use:
- 68 percent have an employee code of conduct policy detailing appropriate professional social networking.
- 66 percent have a code of conduct regarding employee personal use of social media.
- 55 percent stated that they have criteria for how to use social media for business communications.
Marketing applications for social media by businesses appeared more promising, with more than half (52 percent) of the survey respondents stating that they incorporate social media tools into their marketing activity. Of course, perhaps that percentage could be greater if marketers had more of a say in their company’s overall social media policy and strategy—but only 35 percent of the organizations in this survey let their marketing departments take the social media lead, compared with 43 percent that give that responsibility to their human resource departments.
Another finding in this particular study might help explain the continuing tepid response to social media strategies by so many companies: Only about one in five (21 percent) of those surveyed do any sort of measuring, analyzing or reporting on the ROI of their social media activities. Until they can provide more solid proof of the effectiveness of social media marketing tactics, marketers (or others) who tout their use will most likely continue to fight an uphill battle with business leaders.