The Social Media and Online PR Report, published by Econsultancy in association with bigmouthmedia, has revealed that most companies are planning to invest more in social media next year but are struggling to find the time and resources to manage their activity.
The report is based on a survey of over 1,100 companies and agencies, and is the most comprehensive study of its kind around how companies are using online PR and social media for marketing and customer service.
The results showed that 86% of companies plan to spend more money on social media in 2010, and a further 13% are planning to keep the same level of budget. 54% cited their biggest barrier to better social media engagement was a lack of resources, with 90% of businesses stating that social media is taking up more time internally than a year ago.
"The growth of social media and online PR has been meteoric, but until now there have been very few hard facts available on precisely how UK business is using the new channel and what they're getting in return for their investment," said Phil Gripton, Managing Director of bigmouthmedia UK.
"These statistics - the most detailed yet available - show that while an increasing number of companies are embracing social media, many are struggling to effectively manage their engagement and are consequently failing to make the most of a potentially enormous opportunity."
The research found that many companies are experimenting with social media without yet reaping any measurable benefits. Only a quarter of companies said that they have gained "real, tangible value" from social media whereas 60% said they had gained "some benefit but nothing concrete". However, 52% of respondents who are heavily involved said they have gained real value, compared to only 13% of companies who "experimented but not done much".
Michelle Goodall, Econsultancy's social media and online PR consultant at Econsultancy, said: "Before they think about their strategy and the best tactics, companies need to go back to basics and think in detail about how online PR and social media can help them deliver against their business objectives.
"The reality is that most businesses understand how to listen, what to measure and where to engage but are struggling to define the value of engagement and reputation in social spaces."
There view of the benefits of Twitter is mixxed, with 31% of respondents saying there are "tremendous opportunities" available, but half reported their companies are "open-minded but not fully convinced about the value to the business".
The majority of organisations (62%) are using the micro-blogging site for publicising new content, with 54% using the channel for marketing or brand monitoring (47%). Only 27% of companies are using Twitter as a customer service tool for reacting to issues and inquiries, while 25% use Twitter as a customer feedback tool. 7% felt that Twitter is over-hyped and a fad.
Econsultancy is the leading source of independent advice and insight on digital marketing and e-commerce. Econsultancy reports, events, online resources and training programmes help a community of over 80,000 registered marketers make better decisions, build business cases, find the best suppliers, look smart in meetings and accelerate their careers.
Founded in 1997, bigmouthmedia is Europe's largest and most experienced independent digital marketing agency, rated the UK's #1 Search agency for SEO and PPC in the 2009 NMA Marketing Services Guide. Over the last 10 years bigmouthmedia has successfully built an innovative portfolio of integrated and standalone digital marketing products leveraged to offer clients maximum ROI.
Employing over 200 staff in 10 countries, bigmouthmedia has built an international reputation for delivering maximised online returns and exposure for big brand customers. bigmouthmedia specialises in online brand positioning and protection, dramatically improving clients' online profile by promoting their brands and products using a variety of mediums including search engine optimisation, paid search, display advertising, affiliate marketing, online PR, media buying and providing up-to-date digital marketing news.
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