Research Approach and Survey Demographics
Numerous studies have been conducted on social media in the last three years; many more are likely to follow this one in the next few years. This spring, we scanned several dozen social media studies conducted by management consulting and IT service firms, IT research companies and business schools. This report represents our thinking on the critical but underexplored issues for consumer companies on social media. After looking at competing studies to determine what had been covered well, insufficiently or not at all, we decided this research should:
- Center on large consumer companies (of more than $1 billion in revenue) in four regions of the world, and nine countries in those regions. (See Exhibits VI-1 and VI-2.)
- Explore how social media is being used in marketing and beyond – in sales, service, product development, production, finance, distribution and other areas. Thus we interviewed and surveyed a range of executives in these companies, a quarter of whom were in IT, 30% of whom were in customer-facing functions (sales, marketing and customer service), and 8% of whom were in R&D. (See Exhibit VI-3)
- Dive deeply into issues of how social media activities were structured (including their reporting relationships) and the effectiveness of different ways to organize activities, goals for social media and benefits achieved, key social media platforms used, and what ‘leaders’ at social media were doing differently from ‘followers.’
Exhibit VI-1: Survey Respondents by Region of World
Exhibit VI-2: Survey Respondents by Country
Exhibit VI-3: Respondents by Function
To reach our target numbers for companies and managers in the four regions, we drew on an executive panel of Research Now, a global panel research firm. They translated the 26-question survey that we designed into local languages and fielded an online survey in June and July. (The average respondent completed the survey in 13 minutes.) Companies that weren’t using social media were eliminated from the survey. Thus, the data reflects companies with at least a minimum level of social media activities (defined as having a least one full-time equivalent working on social media).
We also wanted people with deep knowledge of their company’s social media activities, and thus instructed Research Now to eliminate respondents who were not familiar with those activities. In all, about 3,800 respondents attempted the survey. All but 655 were screened out either because they didn’t qualify, were not in one of our 11 target consumer industries, were more than three levels down in the organization (see Exhibit VI-4), were not familiar with their company’s social media activities, or their companies had no formal social media activities.
Exhibit VI-4: Respondents by Organizational Level
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