Companies and Social Media: A Relatively New Phenomenon

Forget that Facebook is nine years old and that LinkedIn turned 10 this year. And ignore the fact that consumer usage of social media actually dates back to at least the 1980s, when online services such as CompuServe and America Online provided online services for consumers to exchange ideas.1

For nearly two-thirds of companies across all four regions, social media is a relatively new thing – an activity to which 64% have assigned at least one full-time equivalent in the last three years. (See Exhibit II-1)

Globally, only 14% of our respondents were regularly using public social networking sites in some fashion before 2007. By 2009, about one-third of the respondents were actively involved in social media. And in 2010 and 2011, social media burst through the mainstream: nearly half (49%) of the respondents whose companies actively use social media today launched their activities in those two years.

Exhibit II-1: Social Media is in its Relative Infancy at Consumer Companies

Exhibit 2-1: Social Media is in its Relative Infancy at Consumer Companies

The duration of consumer company experience with social media varies by geography.
Some 39% of the Latin American respondents said their companies had been using
social media prior to 2010. That was slightly higher than North American and Asia-Pacific
respondents (38%). And it was 11 percentage points above Europe, where 28% had been
regularly using social media before 2010. (See Exhibit II-2)

Exhibit II-2: Regional Experience with Social Media

Exhibit 2-2: Regional Experience with Social Media


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  1. The University of North Caroline at Pembroke has a short history of social media []

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