Recently, SmartBrief and Summus released the The State of Social Media for Business 2010. It provides a snapshot of how, why and what businesses are doing within the social media world.

Enterprise Social Media: Widely Used, Mostly Misunderstood

Of the more than 6,000 respondents, social media is not only being widely used, it’s also being used across industries and platforms. Additionally, there are several indications that social media, while popular, is still having issues fully integrating into the communication and marketing strategies at most companies.

Let’s take a look.

Trusted Sources, Limited Reach

About half of the companies surveyed have been using social media for only the past year, with nearly 20% starting in the past 13 to 18 months. When it comes to they types of social media platforms being used, most, if not all companies are playing it safe and sticking with the “big 5” YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. While these might not be the appropriate platforms for every company’s audience, they are trusted places to start social media exploration.


Image 1: Companies are focusing on five main social media platforms

Cultivation Without Conversations

Companies engaging with social media have learned that cultivation takes time. For those companies with two or more years of social media activity, 25% indicated that those tools and platforms have been fully integrated into their companies’ business models. More than half stated that they have a well-developed or fully developed social- media strategy, which incorporates multiple platforms.


Image 2: Brand building is the primary purpose for social media deployed within the enterprise

Yet, for all their efforts, most companies are still using social media for broadcast communications, rather than conversations. Essentially missing the point of social media, companies are quickly seduced by the brand promotion social media affords them.

Mismanaging Social Media

For those that have yet to adapt social media into their communications and marketing strategies, leadership seems to be what’s holding them back. One-third of the respondents note they are not decision makers. Combined with the 14.7% citing management resistance, this indicates an overall lack of management support. Confidentiality issues abound as well, with approximately 33% indicating it as their primary challenge.

Probably most telling about the State of Social Media for Business is that most companies are using social media for novelty’s sake rather as a business strategy. The report found that fewer than 15% of the businesses in the sample using social media reported that they are measuring their return on investment while over 33% are not measuring return on investment at all. Considering the implications that customer service can have on the bottom line, companies need to wake up and smell the ROI where social media is concerned.

Explore More in 2011

However, the report reminds us that social media has come along way. Where once it was regarded as a fad or security issue, more and more companies are integrating it. Until companies understand the long tail of social media, their efforts will fall short of expectations. What we can learn from this year's social media record is that more exploration is needed. While Facebook and Twitter treat us well, more companies would be served better by considering an incorporation of Foursquare, Flick, Tumblr and other emerging technologies.