For traditional businesses, social media is like a virus: it’s furious, fast-growing, and impossible to ignore.
According to a new survey released by the Stanford Rock Center for Corporate Governance, the Center for Leadership Development and Research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and The Conference Board, less than a third of companies today use social media for business purposes.
In the report, 180 senior executives and corporate directors of North American public and private companies, were surveyed for their opinions on social media. The findings reveal a disconnect between companies’ understanding of social media and how they are applying it to their business.
“Companies appreciate the potential that social media can have to transform all aspects of their business,” said Professor David F. Larcker of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and lead author of the study, in a statement. “They also realize the serious threats that it can pose. They’re just not doing very much about it.”
The key findings from the report include:
- 90 percent of respondents claim to understand the impact that social media can have on their organization but only 32 percent monitor social media to detect risks to their business activities (only 14 percent use metrics from social media to measure corporate performance).
- Only 24 percent of senior managers and 8 percent of directors receive reports containing summary information and metrics from social media. Approximately half of the companies do not collect this information at all.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) use social media for personal purposes, and 63 percent for business purposes. This demonstrates that executives and board members are familiar with social media.
- Only 59 percent of companies in the survey use social media to interact with customers, 49 percent to advertise, and 35 percent to research customers. About 30 percent use social media for to research competitors, new products and services, or communicate with employees.
To get savvy with social media, the authors of the report recommend that businesses develop a formal set of guidelines for employees and directors, and consider a monitoring or “listening” tool like Sysomos, Sprout Social, or Salesforce-owned Radian6.