How Long Have Industries Been Using Social Media, and What They’re Trying to Achieve


Our 655 survey respondents work in 11 global industries, from media and entertainment and banking to consumer packaged goods and high tech. Some have been involved in social media for a long time; others are relatively new.

Four industries have been using social media the longest (based on the percentage of respondents whose companies regularly began using social media to engage with consumers prior to 2009): media and entertainment, consumer packaged goods, banking/financial services and telecom. (See Exhibit III-1) Out of the industries using social media, at least 30% of respondents launched their social media activities before that year. (Note: When we say regularly using social media, we mean having at least one full-time employee devoted to it.)

In stark contrast, only 3% of insurance respondents launched serious social media efforts before 2009; in fact, 52% of insurers have started their formal social media activities since 2011 (the largest percentage of any of the 11 industries). Only 23% of media and entertainment firms launched their social media activities since 2011. And only 18% of retailers and 19% of manufacturers were at the social media game before 2009.

Exhibit III-1: How Long Have 11 Consumer Industries Been at the Social Media Game

Exhibit 3-1: How Long Have 11 Consumer Industries Been at the Social Media Game

How long an industry has been using social media appears to influence how serious that industry is in getting results from the activity. We asked respondents whether or not their companies had measurable goals for their social media activities. The industry that has been at social media the longest – media and entertainment – had the highest percentage of respondents with measurable goals (85%). (See Exhibit III-2) The industry that has been at social media for the shortest period of time (insurance) had the lowest percentage. Telecom (82%) and CPG (76%) were near the top on this count.

Exhibit III-2: Industries Which Have Social Media Goals

Exhibit 3-2: Industries Which Have Social Media Goals

So what are their goals? We asked respondents to rate on a scale of 1-5 (not important to very high importance) a number of goals for social media initiatives (Exhibit III-3 through III-14). (Note: We asked them to rate these whether or not they had measurable goals for them.) The goals ranged from increasing revenue and identifying new product/service opportunities, to reducing customer service, marketing and other costs. Here are the results by industry for each goal.

Increasing revenue: Surprisingly, not a high goal in nine of the 11 sectors. The two that rated it at least a ‘4’ on our scale were media and entertainment, and telecom. Health care, insurance and utilities did not rate this as an important goal.

Exhibit III-3: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Increase Revenue
Exhibit 3-3: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Increase Revenue

Understanding how consumers view the brand and the firm’s products: This was most important to telecom services, CPG and banking/financial services firms.

Exhibit III-4: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Understanding Brand Perception

Exhibit 3-4: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Understanding Brand Perception

Increasing brand affinity: Most important to travel/hospitality/airlines and telecom, but of high importance to all sectors.

Exhibit III-5: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Increase Brand Affinity

Exhibit 3-5: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Increase Brand Affinity

Increasing consumer awareness: (the number of consumers who receive a company’s marketing messages): This was of greater importance to retailers and telecom companies; it was of least importance to health care services/products companies (although still important).

Exhibit III-6: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Increase Consumer Awareness

Exhibit 3-6: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Increase Consumer Awareness

Curtailing consumer attacks on a company’s brand: Less important than many other goals, but highest in the telecom and travel-related sectors. It was ranked least important by insurance companies.

Exhibit III-7: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Reduce Consumer Attacks on the Brand

Exhibit 3-7: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Reduce Consumer Attacks on the Brand

Understanding consumer trends: Of high importance to most industries, but highest to retailers and telecom companies. Many retailers, of course, compete on the ability to be the first to recognize consumer trends (especially in apparel retailing). This goal was rated lowest by health care services/products companies.

Exhibit III-8: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Spot Consumer Trends

Exhibit 3-8: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Spot Consumer Trends

Identifying new product/service opportunities: This did not reach high importance in any sector. But the highest rankings were given by telecom, utilities and manufacturing.

Exhibit III-9: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Spot New Product Opportunities

Exhibit 3-9: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Spot New Product Opportunities

Improving existing products or services: This goal was not nearly as important as the awareness-related goals for most industries. Two sectors rated it higher than other sectors: telecom and manufacturing.

Exhibit III-10: Industry Importanceof Using Social Media to Improve Existing Offerings

Exhibit 3-10: Industry Importanceof Using Social Media to Improve Existing Offerings

Improving customer service:Two industries rated this higher than the other sectors: telecom and travel-related. Health care services/products and media and entertainment industries rated it the lowest among the sectors.

Exhibit III-11: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Boost Customer Service

Exhibit 3-11: Industry Importanceof Using Social Media to Improve Existing Offerings

Improving marketing campaigns: Rated highest by the retail, telecom, CPG and manufacturing sectors and rated lowest by health care and insurance companies.

Exhibit III-12: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Improve Marketing Campaigns

Exhibit III-12: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Improve Marketing Campaigns

Improving sales processes: Rated less important overall than improving marketing campaigns. No industry rated this ‘4’ or more in importance. But more important to telecommunication companies, retailers and media firms than other sectors.

Exhibit III-13: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Improve Sales Processes

Exhibit III-13: Industry Importance of Using Social Media to Improve Sales Processes

We asked industry respondents to grade on a scale of 1-5 the importance of using social media to reduce costs in four areas: marketing, customer service, sales and new product development. No industry rated the goal of cutting costs in any of these functions as ‘4’ or more. In some cases, they received less than a ‘3’, for example:

  • Insurance companies gave reducing sales costs a 2.81
  • Health care companies gave reducing customer service costs a 2.88
  • Insurers gave reducing new product development costs an average rating of 2.42

Clearly, most industries see less value in using social media to cut costs in marketing, sales, service and product development than in using it to make those processes more effective, protect and enhance their brand image, and identify new revenue opportunities.

 


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