Canadian businesses slow to act on social, study finds

While social media monitoring is on the rise at Canadian enterprises, engagement with customers through social Web sites is still sluggish, according to new data.

A recent SAS Canada/Leger Marketing survey of 1,000 Canadian executives at mid-sized and large organizations found that only 17 per cent of responding companies regularly monitor and post to social media sites. About 30 per cent of survey respondents monitor at least once every few days.

The survey also found that 10 per cent of responding executives said their company monitors for mentions, but rarely post to social media sites.

Lori Bieda, executive lead of customer intelligence for SAS Americas, said organizations need to both listen and engage regularly to be effective with social media. She said that businesses are not combining the two and finding the right balance between monitoring and engaging.

“Many are sitting back and looking at the results to determine how to act,” Bieda added. “And we see more of that (in Canada) than in other areas.”

Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO at social media measurement firm KD Paine & Partners, said that Canadian marketing budgets haven’t been slashed as much recently compared to in the U.S., which has forced many organizations down south to shift to lower-cost social media marketing.

“Canadians might just be more into listening than they are at shouting at people,” she added.

Paine said Canadian organizations will want to move toward a 50/50 approach when monitoring and engaging their customers online.

The SAS Canada survey also found that the responsibility for corporate social media strategies can be all over the board. A quarter of respondents said tactics are driven by the CEO, while 21 per cent cited the director of communications as the team lead. Another 18 per cent listed the chief marketing officer as the social media head.

For Paine, IT departments can play a huge role in this potential confusion, and combat the haphazard use of social media by businesses.

“(IT) really needs to be seen as part of a solution and not the opposition,” she said.

Paine added that the companies which have most effectively used social media have assembled inclusive, social media committees that bring together people from IT, marketing, HR and other areas to discuss strategies at least once a month.

“You can’t just do things from a traditional IT perspective,” she said. “IT will think safety and security first.”

In order for IT to become a partner, as opposed to an enemy, IT shops must focus on gathering up the collected social data and organizing it in a way that it can actually help the business. A reliable source of content, Paine said, is half the challenge.

“IT can be the level-headed voice of reason with this stuff,” she said. “They can say, ‘We don’t need five or ten different monitoring systems in place to collect this data.’”

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