Web 2.0: Engaging Stakeholders with Social Media
There are two critical trends that are changing the opportunity for companies to use community engagement strategically. The first is the way web 2.0 and social media has changed the ways we can communicate with our stakeholders, and in turn how easy it is for them to share information and interact with what they find interesting and engaging.
Platforms like twitter, facebook, and tumblr are changing online interactions into digital habitats for communities with shared history, interests and values.
Consider the power of the viral video: in hours millions of people can seek and give their attention to something that they were completely unaware of, and they push it out into their digital habitats.
Consider these findings, from a recent Trendwatching[i] report:
- Product recommendations from family (63%) and friends (31%) are the most trusted. However 10% of US consumers now go online to solicit advice from their social networks. For people aged 25-34, this figure rises to 23%. (Source: Cone Inc, June 2010)
- 90% of people trust the recommendations of their Facebook friends (Source: ExactTarget, August 2010)
- 31% of daily Twitter users ask their followers for opinions about products and services. (Source: Edison Research & Arbitron Internet, April 2010)
- Three quarters of Facebook users have ‘Liked’ a brand. (Source: AdAge/ Ipsos, February 2011)
- Incipio Technologies, a gadget retailer, found that referrals from Facebook had a conversion rate double the average (Source: Business Insider, March 2011)
- Every time a user posts on Facebook about buying a ticket from Ticketmaster, the company estimates they receive an extra USD 5.30. (Source: New York Times, April 2011)
- Eventbrite, the event ticketing site, estimates that the value of a Facebook share is USD 2.53. (Source: Eventbrite, March 2011)
The State of Social Media Marketing
Social advertising is one of the biggest emerging areas in marketing and many companies are struggling to find the most effective ways to use it. In a recent survey of 230 brand managers, executives and marketing professionals, the Pivot Conference[ii] found wide-spread interest and adoption of social media across industries. The average marketing budget for companies from this particular study was $16.8M, though three quarters of them had $5M or less. On average companies were spending 24% of their marketing budget on social media.ii
They also found that responsibility for social marketing crosses many different departments, a reflection of the ways companies are using web 2.0 technologies to communicate with stakeholders:
- Marketing 90%
- Public Relations 64%
- Sales 46%
- Customer Service 39%
- Investor Relations 8%
From their report: “Over half (52%) of brands report that they’re running social media marketing in house. 19% are feeding this function to full service ad agencies and another 15% rely on specialized agencies to lead their social marketing programs…. In 2011, marketers plan to increase usage of social media by 75%. 19% will remain at current levels and only one percent of respondents actually plan on decreasing usage.” ii
The survey also found that 57% believe that social media is still in the early stages of capitalizing on the advertising and marketing potential. Only 16% believe their current social media programs are very successful whereas 57% think their initiatives have been somewhat successful. Surprisingly, 23% can’t tell, which indicates an opportunity for services that can help companies implement and track their results and social media ROI.
Increasingly consumers around the world are putting more pressure on companies to not just provide good services and products, but to also be good corporate citizens: [iv]
- 86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests.
- 62% of global consumers prefer brands that support good causes.
On the flip side, consumers are not necessarily buying green products or green claims: iv
- While 40% of consumers say they are willing to purchase green products, only 4% of consumers actually do when given the choice. (Source: Journal of Marketing, September 2010)
- 58% of global consumers think that environmentally friendly products are too expensive, while 33% of global consumers think that environmentally friendly products don’t work as well. (Source: GfK Roper, September 2010)
- While the volume of green products available to US consumers increased by 73% between 2009 and 2010, only 5% of products were not found to include some ‘greenwashing’ claims. (Source: Terrachoice, October 2010)
One of the best opportunities out there for companies interested in building brand equity and loyalty through being socially responsible is to take opportunities to do public projects and engage stakeholders more deeply. Social media and philanthropy, when combined, can provide companies an authentic way to show stakeholders that they are good corporate citizens and community members.
[i] “The F-Factor” from trendwatching.com, May 2011
[ii] “Report: Brands Pursue the Social Consumer” from BrianSolis.com, a reprint of the Pivot Conference Survey results. Available online at:
[iii] “The Top 10 Marketing Sites for Social Media Marketing Trends” from Fast Company, reprinted from BrianSolis.com. Available online at:
[iv] “11 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2011” from trendwatching.com, January 2011