Big brands are managing an overwhelming number of social media accounts, with an average of 178 accounts per company, according to a recent study.
Companies launched social media with little planning, and without standardized processes, according to Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang. Companies that don't get control are at risk of abandoned accounts, inconsistent experience for customers, and untrained employees creating a crisis, Owyang said in a blog post last week.
"Like a disease, social media proliferation will leave companies crippled -- unless they develop a strategy to manage now," the Altimeter Group said in a report. "Beyond coordination challenges, unchecked accounts and disparate customer interactions expose brands to a host of legal, compliance and fragmented brand-perception risks."
Altimeter surveyed 144 enterprise-class corporations, with 1,000 employees or more, including Applebee's, Avaya, Caterpillar, Hallmark, JP Morgan Chase, Newell Rubbermaid, and Western Union.
The report found that businesses lack clear social goals and strategy. Some 70 percent of enterprises said social media efforts meet business objectives, but only 43 percent said they have a formalized strategy roadmap addressing how social media will meet business goals: "This comparison indicates many companies think they are achieving goals, often without having defined goals or determining how they will be achieved."
Most companies don't have an inventory of their social media assets, and only 26 percent of companies offer social media education to rank-and-file employees.
Brands are unable to provide coordinated customer experience across a variety of tools, according to the report:
One of the greatest challenges with so many accounts under the control of traditionally siloed groups is coordination, yet less than half of companies report having a coordinated approach to social media across the company. At one large company we talked to, more than a quarter of their social accounts had been spammed or were abandoned; 50% were fledgling or only slowly growing, and only the last quarter was deemed "Mature," with sustained customer engagement and consistent content. Elizabeth Rizzo of PR agency Shift Communications told us, "When publishing through these platforms you often can't stay on top of all these messages and can't tell what's been responded to." The result, according to Ken Burbury of Digitas, is "a huge risk in brand reputation or reputation management.
As part of the report, Altimeter looked at products from more than 30 vendors offering social media management systems. But brands are reluctant to adopt tools to manage their social media presence. Often, they upload spreadsheets to a server or manually merge disparate business intelligence systems. Advanced companies spent an average of $272,000 on customer integration efforts to glue systems together.
The report also provides advice to enterprises on how to tame social media proliferation. Download it here: A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation.
What do you think? Are social media platforms getting out of control for big brands?
— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site
The CMO Site is an executive social network that provides CMOs and other marketing executives from the world’s leading organizations with a real-time, online venue where they can convene to discuss how they're delivering on the most critical marketing priorities. Join us!