Benchmarks for Social Media Use: Survey Results
 



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  Benchmarks for Social Media Use: Survey Results  
  By Yasha Stelzner and Mark Stelzner, Inflexion Advisors  
 

There are many studies today that benchmark the use of social media tools and the frequency with which they are used. We examined not only the tools used, but the resulting benefit levels of various tools. Additionally, we looked at levels of use across functions, ownership structures, and internal use of social media.

Tools
Survey respondents reported LinkedIn and Facebook as the most highly utilized by the organization (28 percent and 24 percent of respondents, respectively). However, users of these tools generally reported lower benefit scores than users of Twitter and YouTube. There was a small, but highly loyal, MySpace and Yammer following and users of these two tools had the highest reported benefit scores. Although this is directionally interesting, MySpace and Yammer were excluded from our recommendations due to low sample size.

Upon examining perceived benefits in further detail, we found differences in terms of which tools seem to produce better benefits across various metrics.

It is not surprising that HR professionals would get the best results by using LinkedIn for candidate-related metrics. In fact, LinkedIn seems to provide more benefit to the HR function than any other organizational function. However, it is interesting to note Facebook had much lower reported benefit for candidate-related metrics despite its dominating social media footprint.

Functional Level of Use
Level of use varies widely between HR and the Marketing and Communications functions. Human Resources departments either avoid social media tools or participate as a “taker” while most Marketing and Communications functions operate as either “givers” or “stimulators.” This is likely explained by Marketing and Communications’ early adoption of social media and progression to deeper use.

Social Media Ownership
The most prevalent structure is multi-functional and represents either shared organizational ownership or functional ownership over departmental activities. The creation of a separate social media function remains rare (with only three percent of respondents reporting) and these dedicated groups generally operate in conjunction with the other functions rather than independently. Human Resources has some role in ownership of social media 32 percent of the time.

We also examined different ownership structures to see which reported the highest level of benefit. Organizations with cross-functional social media ownership (at a minimum, HR, Marketing, and Communications) reported the highest level of benefit across all metrics. Communications is a strong contender for sole command of social media within an organization as this structure also produced good levels of reported benefits. Unfortunately, HR's involvement does not make a marked difference in reported benefit levels other than in the number and quality of candidates. This may be symptomatic of HR’s lagging use of new media relative to Marketing and Communications.

 

 

Ownership of Policy and Strategy
Level of benefit reported under various ownership structures

Metrics

Perceived Benefit Level

Highest

 

Middle

 

Lowest

Revenue

Multi

Mktg

Comms

HR

Legal

Brand Awareness

Multi

Comms

Mktg

HR

Legal

# of Candidates

Multi

Legal

HR

Comms

Mktg

Knowledge Sharing

Multi

Comms

HR

Mktg

Legal

Sales Cycle

Multi

Comms

Mktg

HR/Legal

Customer Satisfaction

Multi

Comms

Mktg

HR

Legal

Image/Reputation

Multi/Comms/Legal

Mktg

HR

Quality of Candidates

Multi

Legal/HR

Comms/Mktg

Multi = HR+Marketing+Comms minimum; HR = HR sole owner; Mktg = Marketing sole owner, etc.
Shaded rows represent metrics that had a significant difference between the highest and lowest reported benefit scores. The difference between highest and lowest reported benefit scores for unshaded rows was less substantial.


Internal Use
Most organizations are using social media internally for either knowledge sharing, information delivery or networking. Interestingly, the smallest use of social media internally is group problem solving which is, theoretically, the activity with the clearest organizational benefit.


Although a disproportionate amount of market noise is associated with external use, HR would benefit significantly from peer-based case studies citing internal applications and the associated ROI.

About the Survey
We used online survey technology to pose a series of questions to our respondents. The survey was offered to those in the HR community through professional associations and online communities.

Survey Respondents
We received 164 responses from IHRIM members and 856 responses in total. We examined the profile of IHRIM respondents and found them to be identical to that of all other respondents with the exception of two areas - HR function and gender. IHRIM respondents had a higher percentage of HRIS/HRIT professionals (compared to HR generalists from the remainder of respondents) and had a higher percentage of men than did the rest of the sample (43 percent male for IHRIM, compared to 23 percent male for all others). However, in terms of social media use profile, IHRIM respondents were the same as all other respondents so we felt comfortable aggregating questions on organizational use.

Biases and Imperfections
We acknowledge that soliciting survey responses via electronic channels and completing the survey online might create a respondent pool already comfortable with technology and social media. Also, because 70 percent of the respondents are from the HR function, there may be a bias on any cross-functional questions (for example, ownership of social media). However, we did not observe any bias in the reported benefits. Human Resources metrics did not score higher than non-HR metrics - in fact, they tended to score lower. This leads us to believe that HR respondents were not inflating their perception of the results of their social media efforts.

For the full article about the state of use of social media based on the Stelzner research, please click on the cover of the magazine to go to the e-version of Workforce Solutions Review or click on Subscribe and receive your printed copy.


About The Authors

mark and yams 1As principal and chief research officer of Inflexion Advisors, Yasha Stelzner uses market research and analytical models to guide her clients through complex issues and information so they can resolve critical decisions and execute their strategies. With over 13 years of experience in research, strategic consulting and human resources management, she has developed and deployed solutions for hundreds of global 1000 firms. She may be reached at yasha.stelzner@inflexionadvisors.com.

As principal and founder of Inflexion Advisors, Mark Stelzner has created over US$3 billion of value via the implementation of internal and external HR transformational initiatives. A highly sought after voice in the industry, Mark has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, CNN and NPR. His popular blog, Inflexion Point, may be found at http://www.inflexionadvisors.com/blog and he may be reached at mark.stelzner@inflexionadvisors.com.

 
 
 
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