Marketing October 22, 2014

26% of SMEs Use Social Media Just Because Their Competitors Do!


Practically every company uses social media, but some business leaders are using it for no good reason at all.

According to Social Media Examiner, 97% of companies are using social media to market our products and / or services, with 92% stating that it is important to their business.  But, there are still businesses out there with no clear purpose for their social media output, and for me this is a problem. With 26% of MDs of SMEs claiming that they use social media just because their competitors do, I dread to think what their efforts are like.

If you don’t have a valid reason for it then why do you bother at all?

There are tremendous opportunities with social media but one thing that Vistage helps MDs understand is that if you’re going to do something properly then you should set clear objectives for it and measure against them. Simply put, investments being made in social media (be they staff time, agency fees or system costs) are no different to any other business investments in this respect.

Have you stopped and asked what your company is trying to achieve by using social media?

My recent MBA thesis revealed that the most common reasons for using social media by SMEs are those around AWARENESS, specifically increasing awareness and generating leads, followed by PURSUASION in terms of interacting with customers.

However, it is still concerning that 31% of MDs state that social media is being used purely because they just think it is important.  On top of this, for over a quarter of SMEs, one of the reasons they use social media is just because their competitors do.


Note: responders were asked to tick all reasons that applied

I can only imagine what most MDs would say in response to one of their staff proposing an investment in a project just because they thought it was a good idea or because competitors are also doing it. So why treat investments in social media any differently?

How to Set Your Social Media Objectives

In my previous blog, 83% of SMEs don’t use social media properly – and it’s the MDs fault! I discussed the need to use social media within a correct strategic platform and highlighted the risks attached to using it badly. The first step in using social media properly is setting some clearly defined objectives.

From my experience I have found that these objectives can fit in to 3 broad categories:

  1. AWARENESS  - extending awareness of your organisation’s product/service
    This includes specific objectives such as improving the reach of your brand, driving web traffic, generating new sales leads, amplifying word-of-mouth marketing and public relations.

  2. PERSUASION - influencing opinions, attitudes, purchasing behaviour
    This includes lead conversion, customer retention & loyalty, customer advocacy and reputation management

  3. COLLABORATION - working with your organisation’s customers and other stakeholdersThis third area, which is less commonly set as an objective, includes data analysis to supporting market research, idea generation and new product development, as well as product or service co-innovation, improving customer service and internal and external communications.

You can use these objectives to help refocus your efforts. If you understand what the purpose of your investment in this area is, you will, in turn, understand how to measure these efforts and manage them efficiently.

Do you know why your organisation is using social media? Is it in line with the findings above? Let me know – I’d be interested in your answers.

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