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Slow Social Media Adoption in Canada Results in Forfeited Business Intelligence

As a Canadian marketer and firm believer in the value of social media with respect to business, I’m often curious about the state of social media adoption in the true north strong and free. In Canada, there are approximately 18.6 million Facebook users, 6.9 million Twitter users and 4.8 million LinkedIn users representing a significant part of our 34.4 million total population. What interests me more is the data behind companies using social media strategically to engage their markets and become better marketers. Finally, I’m always interested in substantiating my contentions that there is real business intelligence to be derived from social media channels discussing brands, products and services.

An Opportunity to Lead
Social media activity should be integrated within the core dashboard of metrics available to executive management when evaluating performance of business activities. Canadian companies are missing some of the richest and most valuable information available to them. “Canadians are thorough in their evaluation, but slower to take things up,” said Lori Bieda, executive lead of customer intelligence for SAS Canada. With sluggishness comes opportunity, and early adopters and first movers have advantages to gain.

Generate Valuable Insight
Stanford University recently published a study gauging social media’s use at the senior management level within a sample of 184 organizations spanning various industries and revenue levels. The study that ran between May and June 2012, found that less than one quarter (23.6 percent) of the respondents receives reports containing summary metrics from social media. Only 14.2 percent of the respondents claim to use information gathered from social media as part of the key performance indicators (KPI) that track the success of business activities within their companies. The most compelling figure to me was that out of the companies that do receive reporting from social media, 95.2 percent find the information either very useful or at least moderately useful.

Engage and Create a Conversation
Just last year, a Leger Marketing survey found that 30 percent of 1,000 Canadian executives surveyed said their company regularly monitors social media websites for mentions, while only 17 percent claimed that their companies participated and monitored simultaneously. Although the Leger survey did not detail the extent of reporting and inclusion of social media metrics in KPI tracking, it is safe to contend that the majority of Canadian organizations are not gaining the insight and valuable intelligence directly from the communities they should be engaging and measuring.

Does your company track the social media activity surrounding your brand? How is this information used?  And how helpful was it in guiding strategic initiatives?

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  1. Hi Pat.
    This was a really interesting blog! Do you have examples of top Canadian companies that regularly implement social media in their business development decisions? I’d love to read about any success stories that you could provide.

  2. Thanks for your contribution! That would make a really interesting follow-up piece. Tune-in next week, I just may have some Canadian success stories. 🙂

  3. Nice article. I also find it strange that some companies are slow to adopt social media. A significant stat I read a couple of years ago: 78% of customers trust peer recommendation, while only 14% of customers trust advertisements.

    Given how effective social media marketing can be when done correctly, do you think companies should have a higher budget for social media than traditional marketing avenues (Google Adwords, email marketing, etc)?

    • Hi Asrar,

      Yeah, that stat was pretty compelling to me too! It stuck-out to me when I read it in Erik Qualman’s book titled, “Socialnomics” (! What a great book that was.

      To answer your question, I think budgets are shifting. Traditional advertising is dying, in some categories more than others; but there is a visible decline in spending pretty much across the board, except for web. It’s funny that you refer to Google AdWords and email marketing as “traditional.” Those are excellent tools for targeted push marketing. They both offer great tracking capabilities and the ability for marketers to dial-in the details optimally. I do think there may be more value in social media than these two vehicles.

      Do I think more budget should be allocated to social media over Google AdWords and email marketing? The answer is: it depends. Analysis and strategy should dictate that for different marketers. Cost-benefit analysis would give you your circumstantial answer.

      Do I think more budget should be allocated to web initiatives, including social media, over traditional advertising: probably. Again, it depends. In tougher economic times, marketers are getting more scientific about their spend and ROI, and they should! Social media is effective, cost-effective and most interestingly: it’s measurable, which is kind of the point of my post. I do believe there is a place for traditional marketing within integrated marketing communications, but the perfect communications mix needs to be balanced and tailored to meeting objectives.

      Thanks for your contribution!

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