Corporate use of social media is entering the mainstream but often in a haphazard and suck it and see manner, a new survey reveals. The state of corporate social media in 2011 by the Useful Social Media group is, however, optimistic that the growth of social media in the corporate environment is not just a fad and will continue to grow. It states:

“It would be easy, from the budgetary figures to assume the pace of innovation in corporate social media is slowing. Budgets are increasing – but not by much in the vast majority of cases. Is this a sign of a growing doubt in the mind of senior executives about the merits of social media for business?

”The answer is no.

“It’s true that there is certainly an increased pressure on corporate social media practitioners to deliver on investment – there’s an ever more pressing need to demonstrate ROI, along with progress against other crucial KPIs. But this simply represents social media being treated as a regular business investment – good news for those worried that this was a fad into which companies were being reluctantly dragged. More than simply acceptance, there is now clarity that corporate practitioners ‘get’ social media – and its opportunities moving forward. “

Main findings of the survey are:

  1. The ‘social media department’ is an unpopular concept, and largely ignored by corporations.
  2. Social media is often added to existing corporate roles. Few companies have staff working exclusively on social media, though 90% have one or more people working on social as part of their role.
  3. Social media practitioners still tend to sit within the marketing department (43%), though a fuller integration of social responsibilities within a variety of different departments is now gaining popularity (35%).
  4. The majority of companies expect social media to become integrated into more than just marketing throughout 2011.
  5. The vast majority of companies expect social media budgets to increase over 2011 (89%), though the increase will be less dramatic than in previous years, with 71% expecting an increase of 25% or less.
  6. Currently, corporate social media is used largely for marketing and communications (88% and 93% of respondents say they use social media for communications and marketing respectively). However , a significant proportion are already using social media to enhance customer service and engagement.
  7. Over the next year , the biggest change in corporate use of social media will be the growth of companies using it for customer service (73% by the end of 2011). Using social for employee engagement (59%) and product development (52%) will also become more popular .
  8. While a significant proportion of companies are now con?dent that they are measuring social media impact, the majority still feel there is work to be done – a view that’s particularly prevalent in Europe.
  9. Social media expertise has been brought in house. 57% of companies don’t pay any external service providers, and a huge 89% of companies write all their own social media communications.
  10. While B2B companies are taking the adoption of social media equally as seriously as their B2C counterparts, it is the B2C companies that have experienced most success in the eyes of their peers.