Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Corporate Use of Social Networking Still an Executive Concern

According to a study by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, senior US marketing, management and HR executives are concerned about the risks of increased use of social networks within their companies. 51% percent of these executives fear social media could be detrimental to employee productivity, while 49% assert that using social media could damage company reputation.

Despite these apprehensions, says the study, social networking is being accepted as a key communications strategy. According to survey results:
81% believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients
81% agree it can build brand reputation
69% feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment
64% see it as a customer service tool
46% think it can be used to enhance employee morale

The most popular vehicles being used include:
Facebook (80%)
Twitter (66%)
YouTube (55%)
LinkedIn (49%)
Blogs (43%)

Much of senior management's direct experience with social media appears to be reactive versus proactive, concludes the report. 72% of executives say that they, personally, visit social media sites at least weekly:
52% to read what customers may be saying about their company
47% to routinely monitor a competitors' use of social networking
36% to see what their employees are sharing
25% check the background of a prospective employee

The national survey, which assessed social media workplace trends and adoption of policies governing social media, found that fewer than one in three respondents say their organization has a policy in place to govern social media use and only 10% of companies have conducted employee training on it.

Executives believe social media can potentially be detrimental to employee effectiveness and company reputation, sys the report. Those surveyed who are not using social media on a corporate basis say non-implementation is primarily due to concern about confidentiality or security issues (40%), employee productivity (37%) or simply not knowing enough about it (51%).

This may be why many organizations continue to prohibit workplace access to social networking sites. The study found that 40 percent of companies technically block their employees from accessing social media while at work. At the same time, 26% of companies use social media to further corporate objectives and 70% said they plan to increase the use of these new opportunities.

Even though social media communication is growing, only one in 10 executives say they have staff who spend more than 50% of their time on such efforts, and only 13% have included social media in their organizations' crisis communications plans.

Carol Russell, CEO of Russell Herder, says "Ignoring the need for responsible guidelines can leave an organization open to unnecessary risk and can impede efforts to use social media proactively and competitively in the marketplace... "

And, according to Ethos President David Baer, good social media policies are organization-specific, taking into consideration the philosophy and culture of the organization. Good policies should include, he says, "the need to respect confidential and proprietary information, as well as the sensitivity of potential conflicts of interest."

To view the balance of the Whitepaper in a PDF file, please access it at (rhp_089_whitepaper.pdf) with this link.

Source: Center for Media Research Research Brief 9/25/09

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