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The Case for Social Business: Recapping Nielson’s 2012 Social Media Report

Earlier this month, Nielson released its 2012 Social Media Report, detailing the growth, evolution and impact of social media. The report found that, even with overall Internet use on the rise, people continue to spend more time on social networks than any other category of sites—20% of their time spent on PCs and 30% of their mobile time.”

Social has become engrained in our culture, and is a daily part of most people’s lives. According to the report, this trend has only been amplified this past year by the surge in mobile adoption and social network proliferation.

The Social Impact on Businesses

Social has made it easier for buyers to research, and validate, purchasing decisions, as well as share their experiences with brands. As the report points out, consumers are no longer limited to the recommendations and opinions of those they know personally.

Even more staggering are Nielson’s statistics:

  • 70% of social media users hear others’ experiences at least once per month.
  • 65% use social networks to learn more about brands, products or services.
  • 53% compliment brands via social platforms, whereas 50% express concerns or complaints.
  • 47% share money incentives on social networks.

As a result, huge marketing and customer service opportunities exist for those organizations that are social savvy, and understand the proper ways to engage with external audiences in social channels—on both the corporate and personal level.

But, it doesn’t stop there. With social so immersed in our daily lives, it’s becoming harder to control when and where people engage. In fact, Nielson reports that 51% of people between the ages of 25-34 use social networks in the office. Is your company capitalizing on that trend, or discouraging it? (We hope the former!)

With a strategic approach, and cross-organizational training, social can become a differentiator for your business.

A Call for Social Businesses

In our opinion, the Nielson report justifies the need for companies to become truly social businesses—i.e. companies with the culture and processes to support openness and collaboration across both internal and external audiences.

Becoming a social business is more than launching a Facebook profile or Twitter account; it’s putting the systems and training in place to participate in a strategic way that transcends the entire organizational ecosystem.

In dealing with external audiences, it’s ensuring that the people on the frontline are trained in best practices, information is reaching the most appropriate individuals (marketing, customer service, operations, etc.), messaging is aligned with the brand, and processes are in place for reporting and analysis.

Looking inward, consider an internal social network (e.g. Yammer) for employees. As explained by Christina Schmitz (@christinacs) in A Content Marketing Mind for Social Business, internal networks can help streamline communications, enable cross-functional collaboration, improve information access and enhance culture. In a world where social is a communication norm, employees will increasingly begin to appreciate, and demand, this type of openness.

As the Nielson report points out, social is not a passing trend; “it’s a global phenomenon.” Is your organization equipped to ride social into the future? Share your experiences in the comments.

Related: Check out this Yammer guest post by Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) detailing PR 20/20’s social business story.

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