Will 2010 Be The Year the Business Barriers to Social Media Come Down?

Twitter. Not a fad.

Twitter. Not a fad.

In one respect 2010 started for me in a very frustrating way.

At a Hogmanay party I was chewing the fat with an accountant from a well-known Scottish firm who told me: “In six months Twitter will be dead. It is a passing fad and will never catch on in business.”

This is typical of the attitude I encountered throughout 2008 and 2009. I fervently hope it will begin to dissolve in this new year.

In the minds of these business people – this accountant in particular – Twitter is forever tainted with the stain of appartnely pointless celebrity follows.

“Twitter is good for nothing except finding out what Stephen Fry had for lunch or what Sarah Brown is doing for charity.” my new accountant friend told me.

There followed all the usual business barriers to social media:
* You lose control of the message (he didn’t really want to hear that any scuh ‘contol’ is an illusion any way)
* You open yourself up to abuse from the reckless, feckless and neckless (the concept of a community – including employees- defending the brand seemed alien. Then again, I s’pose it is accountancy)
* Our clients have no interest in such channels. Once they sign up they’re with us for the long term (so, your clients don’t get to pick the way they want to engage with the world? And social media is short-term, is it?)
* Anyway Twitter is only one way of doing things – it won’t change the world (attaboy! Now you’re getting it. It IS only one channel – but why be so closed-minded about it?)

Gently, I took the time to explain that Twitter – in one form or another – will definitely still be around in six months. I also suggested that within the year his own company will be using it for business purposes, or will be trailing behind more open-minded competitors.

As I laid out the practical possibilities how it could work on a day-to-day basis for his firm I saw a definite spark of interest ignite. This guy, after all, is well-educated with a questing mind.

I know he started to see the possibilities. However, conversation turned to his 20 or so partners and that little flame of hope was entirely and ruthlessly snuffed out in an instant.

Reality is that trying to persuade this guy was a tough sell. If even partly convincing him was such hard work, how difficult would it be getting through to 20 institutionally traditional other men in suits?

Getting all 20 partners at a safe and traditional accountancy firms to agree to see the benefit and then agree a social media policy seems a lifetime away.

So, I’ll take some solace from the findings of this recent report by Econsultancy, which shows that business activity on Twitter and other social networks has doubled.

In fairness, it would be nice and easy to take on a traditional firm as a client and service only their narrow view of traditional communication channels.

But – unlike Twitter – there’s no future in that.

This is the fourth annual Customer Engagement Report, produced in association with cScape. This is the most comprehensive and influential report available on customer engagement, and features expert commentary from the likes of Andy Beal, Jim Sterne, Eric T. Peterson, Ron Shevlin, Martha Russell, BJ Fogg and Ian Jindal.

The research is useful for those who want to get an overview of customer engagement strategies and tactics, and the extent to which companies are adapting to changing customer behaviour and attitudes, and increased use of social media and the mobile channel.

The 56-page report is based on a survey of more than 1,000 respondents, carried out in October and November 2009.

Respondents include client-side digital marketers and digital agencies.

The report findings are divided into the following sections:

  • Customer engagement strategy
  • Tactics, behaviour and attitudes
  • ‘Enterprise 2.0’ (i.e. extent to which companies are adopting a ‘social business design’)
  • Mobile
  • Mapping and measurement
Report highlights include:
  • The proportion of company respondents who regard customer engagement as “essential” has increased to 55%, up from 52% in 2008 and 50% in 2007.
  • Email newsletters are the tactic most likely to have resulted in a tangible improvement to an organisation’s online customer engagement.
  • The tactics which have come to the forefront for driving customer engagement are social networking and Twitter activity. Presence on social networks has almost doubled, while micro-blogging has gone up five-fold.
  • Only a small minority of organisations (6%) say they have a customer engagement strategy which seamlessly embraces mobile marketing.
  • Web analytics play a pivotal role in gathering intelligence, and over half of companies surveyed (51%) say this is useful for engaging customers online.

Download a copy of the report to learn more. 

free sample is available for those who want more detail about what is in the report.

How much does this report cost?

You can purchase just this report for £150.

However, become a Silver Member and you get total access to all our reports for as little as £195.

As a Silver Member you get complete access to 700+ of our reports for a whole year. This includes all past reports and all the new ones we publish during the year.

For less than a dollar a day you get access to Econsultancy’s multi award-winning reports, research and guides. You join our community of 80,000+ of the world’s leading digital marketing and e-commerce practitioners. Read testimonials from other members to see how valuable they find Econsultancy as a resource to help them become smarter digital marketers.

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