Large corporate brands in South Africa have woken up to social media, following in the footsteps of their customers, according to new findings from technology market researchers World Wide Worx and information analysts Fuseware.
The South African Social Media Landscape 2012 study, released this week by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, reveals that 95% of major brands surveyed have some form of social media strategy aimed at consumers. However, only 51% rate their efforts on Facebook as effective – and only 33% believe they are effective on Twitter.
“The survey shows that corporate South Africa has woken up to social media, but it hasn’t yet figured out how to dress for the role,” World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck said in a statement. “Most large companies are still neutral on the impact of social media, and are still feeling their way.”
The report includes analysis of South African consumers’ use of Facebook, Twitter, Mxit, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Foursquare, as well as a survey conducted among corporate brand owners.
“We interviewed representatives of 61 major brands, and found that corporate use of social networks tended to be a case of responding to media hype,” said Fuseware managing director Mike Wronski. “The most popular social media platform in South Africa, Mxit, is used as a marketing tool by only one out of five large brands. This compares to Facebook, with nine out 10 using it, and Youtube, with two out of three.”
The survey shows that that South African corporate brands are also still getting to grips with how to measure their social media effectiveness. While 74 % use number of followers as a key measure on Twitter, only 24% measure the number of their own customers who are followers.
Similarly, while 72 % measure effectiveness according to comments and mentions, only 40 % consider “sentiment analysis”, which evaluates the positive or negative tone of comments.
An even bigger gap is seen on Facebook, where 83 % of brands live by comments and mentions, but only 37 % use sentiment analysis.
“The survey shows that companies haven’t quite figured out what is more important,” said Goldstuck. “It comes down to separating volume from value, and that takes time and energy, rather than just a dashboard of numbers.”
Wronski added: “When we asked companies what barriers were preventing marketers from getting more value out of social media, the most commonly cited was, ‘Time to properly manage these channels’. This is the largest bottleneck to social media success. Brands are struggling to allocate resources and time to manage social channels.”
Other key findings of the study include:
49 % of South African corporations surveyed leave social media in the hands of a marketing team, while 18 % allocate it to public relations and a further 18 % outsource it.
The most commonly cited reason for using social media is as an effective PR channel, with 70 % of brands using it for this purpose, while 62 % use it as a core part of their marketing campaigns.
Sales represent a key element of social media for corporations, with 43 % using it for customer lead generation.
Only 13 % of companies are using social media specifically because their competitors are using it.
Most companies intend to make investments in training their current people in social media best practices. A full 36% intend to use specialist social media agencies to assist in their social media PR and marketing. Only 15% say their skills are optimal.