Customer care and engagement is now the number one reason for businesses to use social networking sites. In an annual report by Virgin Media Business, 5,000 companies said dealing with customers directly is the main reason (62 per cent) for logging-on – more than double that of raising brand awareness and sales generation combined (23 per cent).
The report found that nearly half (43 per cent) of British companies now have a social media presence, an eight per cent rise from last year. Despite this increase, companies are choosing carefully where they represent their organisation online. Facebook is seen as the most important (34 per cent) with Twitter second (24 per cent).
Just eight per cent of companies are currently using location based sites and even fewer (two per cent) offer customers direct deals and promotions. Yet this is expected to rise significantly in the next decade with 38 per cent of companies forecasting more geo-location deals set up with banks or supermarkets.
Phil Stewart, Director Customer Services at Virgin Media Business, said: “Businesses are starting to work out the areas where social networking can really sing for them. There’s no point having a presence on every site unless you can dedicate the right amount of attention to it. Location based sites, such as FourSquare, have fallen behind others as companies have taken the view that they simply can’t manage all these sites at the same time.
“Being app savvy in this way is helping companies to get the most from social networking sites and become more strategic about using them. It’ll mean dedicated social media staff can focus their efforts and deliver real value to the organisation and its customers.
“In time, companies are expected to broaden their social networking presence. But why run before you can walk. Managing these online assets can be logistically challenging, so firms need to have clear communication channels to ensure there’s no confusion about maintaining them. It’s a lot easier to do that when it’s just one or two rather than a dozen.”
Note to editors:
The research was carried out by LM Research and surveyed 5,000 directors / business owners from companies with 100+ employees between 12 December 2011 and 16 December 2011.