Ok, the title may seem a little over the top but it’s true. Over the last 5 years or so, the exponential growth of the social web has suddenly given a voice to just about anyone who wants one. I wrote about this a few years go but it’s even more true today. The emergence of technology and the fact that tools like Twitter and Facebook have become mainstream is forcing the enterprise to plan accordingly and consider something new, something they aren’t used to. Consumers. I’m not referring to audience segmentation or identifying a target audience either. I am talking about consumers’ perceptions, point of views, interests, dislikes and likes about their brand.
Take the recent Alterian Annual Survey 2009 (just released yesterday) as an example and it paints a very important picture. Here are some key insights of the study:
- 40% of respondents anticipated a shift of over a fifth of their budget, with 21% predicting more than a third of their budget will shift towards digital/social channels.
- 66% of all respondents plan to invest in Social Media Marketing in 2010.
- 57% of respondents reported a plan to invest in engaging individuals on their websites.
- 36% of respondents plan to invest in Social Media Monitoring tools.
- Over half of all respondents (51%) are expending a ‘fair’ or ‘significant’ amount of effort to ensure integration of their communication strategies.
- 54% of respondents said social media was ‘increasingly important’ to the overall marketing mix, with 14% believing it to be ‘critical for success’.
- Only 6% of respondents felt ‘extremely prepared’ to take advantage of the new techniques that digital and social media represent with 40% of respondents believing that their staff had either ‘none’ or ‘some – with a plan to invest further’ of the skills necessary to take advantage of new marketing or customer engagement strategies.
What this data tells me is that more organizations are taking social media consumers more serious by listening to what is being said about their brands online and making a strong financial commitment to engage with them. The data also suggests that most organizations are not ready internally to take on this challenge and it’s quite possible that they may fail. Financial investment is imperative but that’s only half the battle.
Download the full report here (registration required).