Finance, HR seen as main obstacles to "social enga
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Finance, HR seen as main obstacles to "social enga

Arun Sudhaman

Yet more social media research finds its way to me, this time from PulsePoint Group, which partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit to examine how enterprises are becoming more "socially engaged." The study polled 329 senior executives at North American companies and the presentation, available here (PDF), was showcased at last week's Arthur W. Page Spring Seminar. Of most interest to me is undoubtedly slide 14, which demonstrates the prime internal advocates for an enlightened social engagement strategy. Unsurprisingly, marketing and sales lead. Human resources and finance, however, fare less well. In fact, they essentially rank last, which will raise some uncomfortable questions - given how important these departments are to an organization's social media policy. Social media is regularly viewed as a critical component of any internal communication strategy, a trend we have examined before. Meanwhile, as EIU editorial director Justine Thody noted when delivering these results: "If you want to develop initiatives that affect all parts of the organisation, how are you going to get the financial backing to push that forward?" Neither do respondents expect this situation to change. It is telling that the C-suite is viewed as a bigger advocate for social engagement, something that was confirmed by the comments of several CCOs at the Page event. Two-thirds of the organizations  achieving the highest returns reported that their C-suites are active advocates– that is, they commit to social engagement as a strategy and they reallocate resources to make it happen. The survey also identifies other roadblocks. Chief among these are "an inability to prove ROI", along with "legal and regulatory concerns", and an "unclear strategy of change". All valid concerns, but I would add another finding thrown up by the survey: that only 17 percent of organisations have responsibility for social media well distributed across the organisation. Broadly, the survey reveals that executives see tangible economic benefits from social engagement, including increased market share, improved talent retention and improved product/service quality. And how do these executives define social engagement? Online listening (28 percent), blogging (24 percent) and building relationships with online influencers (21 percent).  But the top performers see things differently - companies with higher returns from social engagement crowdsource new products (57 percent), or let customers participate in developing ideas -- they are predicting a significant portion of new products will be derived from social engagement insights.
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