Member Article

Business must use social media to get ahead

UK businesses are lagging behind their peers in high growth markets because they fail to use social media in an effective manner, according to a new report.

70% of companies around the world are are active on social networks, which are now commonly viewed as a viable and effective business tool. out of thise who use social media, 8 out of every 10 believe that the returns delivered by going online outweigh the risks associated with its usage.

Benefits are said to include a wider knowledge pool, an increased public profile, increased job satisfaction and the opportunity to cultivate relationships.

Andy O’Brien, management consulting director at KPMG in Newcastle, said: “The lines between consumer and corporate use of social media are blurring and this region’s businesses stand to benefit from focusing on building better relationships with increasingly savvy consumers.”

Businesses in China, India and Brazil are 20-30% more likely to use social media that their counterparts in developed countries.Statistics indicating that 98% of managers in China and Brazil use social media several times a week, in comparison to 80% in the UK.

Less than half of all businesses in the UK use social media to communicate for business purposes, in comparison to over 70% in the US and 83% in China.

Mr O’Brien is now encouraging businesses in the UK to address several issues to promote engagement with social media. In the wake of the financial crisis, opening up business via social media will promote transparency and trust, while online engagement can promote new channels of communication. Using game mechanics could also attract the attention of new consumers.

Andy O’Brien says: “Given the impact of public enquiries on some industries recently, it will be increasingly accepted that the rules have changed and conversations can no longer be controlled.

“When it’s clear that they have nothing to hide businesses are perceived as trustworthy and are less likely to be on the receiving end of public criticism.

“Businesses are starting to take note of fast growing mobile social networks that are blurring the boundary between content production and consumption, while we will begin to see industries applying intrinsic motivators in the form of games to encourage much greater brand engagement.”

Restricting social networks at work could also be futile, as the study also showed that employees were ‘jail breaking’ their work devices when social networking access is banned or blocked.

Martin Tyley, director in KPMG’s Northern Risk Consulting practice, said: “Executives may be naïve in thinking that banning access to social networks eliminates employee use.

“Instead, our survey shows that when access is restricted or blocked, many employees tend to move their activity to their own personal devices which are often less secure and completely unmonitored.”

O’Brien believes that it is naive to think that there is no place for social media in the buisiness world.

He added: With multiple channels available to consumers in the shape of smart phones, tablets and laptops, the businesses that will do well will be those that can adapt and adopt.

“Anything less risks closing off routes to market at a time no business can afford to turn opportunities down.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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