Harvard Business Review Analytics Services Releases Study on the Impact of Social Media

BOSTON – While a growing number of companies are experimenting with social media as a way to have a new conversation with customers – few feel they have the metrics and tools in place to judge the impact of their efforts.

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in partnership with SAS, recently conducted a survey of 2,100 companies to identify if and how companies are using social media channels. The study found that nearly two thirds of the participating organizations said that they are either currently using social media channels, or have plans in the works. However, only 12 percent of the companies surveyed said they felt they were effective users of social media. These were the companies most likely to use multiple channels; use metrics for reporting; have a strategy for social media usage; and integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy.

Despite the vast potential of social media, many firms in the study seemed focused primarily on using social media as a one-way promotional channel. They had yet to capitalize on their ability to listen and analyze customer conversations so that the information could be used to impact the bottom line.

“Most organizations are in discovery mode when it comes to social media,” said Alex Clemente, Managing Director of HBR Analytic Services. “But the significant participation in the survey of more than 2,000 senior executives demonstrates how important the topic is—and it’s one they are working hard to figure out.”

In addition – HBR’s research uncovered the following statistics:

– Three-quarters (75%) of the companies in the survey said they did not know where their most valuable customers were talking about them.
– Nearly one-third (31%) do not measure effectiveness of social media.
– Less than one-quarter (23%) are using social media analytic tools.
– A fraction (7%) of participating companies are able to integrate social media into their marketing activities.

“We are pleased to have been able to provide some metrics on a relatively new, exploding marketing channel,” said Clemente. “Many executives are keen to learn best practices in a fast emerging field that represents a new paradigm.”

To see the full survey with results, please visit HBR.org.

About Harvard Business Review Analytic Services

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services is an independent, sponsored research unit within Harvard Business Review Group, which conducts research and comparative analysis into timely business and management ideas. HBR Analytic Services has been recognized for its 2009 “Face-to-Face” research report, sponsored by British Airways, as a finalist in the 2010 M&M Awards in the category of “Best Contribution to a Media Campaign By a Media Owner.”

About Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review is the leading destination for smart management thinking. Through its flagship magazine, 11 international licensed editions, books from Harvard Business Review Press, and digital content and tools published on HBR.org, Harvard Business Review provides professionals around the world with rigorous insights and best practices to lead themselves and their organizations more effectively and to make a positive impact.