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Two-thirds of corporates expect to increase use of digital by 2016 but admit to knowledge gap

Research from Gather, a strategic corporate communications consultancy, shows a clear disparity between organisations’ intention to ramp up digital and social media communications to their key audiences, and their understanding of how to use the channels strategically – raising concerns the message could get lost or distorted.

Two-thirds (65%) of business decision-makers said they expect to increase their use of digital media to employees, customers, investors and influencers in the next two years. The same percentage stated they expect to increase their use of social media to the same audiences, over the same period.

Contrastingly some 30% of those with a responsibility for communicating with investors admitted that they didn’t currently use any of the main digital and social channels, while 30% of those responsible for communicating with employees said the same.

The study additionally found that businesses were struggling with the changing preferences of today’s digitally savvy consumers. Customers were slightly more likely to hear from the businesses surveyed via one of these digital and social channels, with 24% of those with responsibility for contacting customers selecting “none of these”, while 19% of respondents with responsibility for contacting influencers said the same.

This highlights the difficulties facing businesses when attempting to integrate digital and social channels with more traditional approaches.

Meanwhile, only 33% of organisations believed they were equipped to deal with greater levels of digital communication. Anxiety was most keenly felt about social media, with 16%, claiming they were poorly prepared - based on a scale of 0 – 10[1] - compared to 11% for digital. Around half in each category – 54% for digital and 50% for social – said their business was well prepared.

The study was conducted on Gather’s behalf by YouGov among 752 British business decision-makers in manufacturing, construction, financial/accounting, retail, IT, telcos, marketing, legal, medical and education etc.

In addition to commissioning the survey, Gather also conducted 12 in-depth interviews with its clients and partners. These interviews clearly identified the need for businesses to embrace digital and social technologies and increase levels of communication with each of their various audiences, while gaining greater clarity and control over both external and internal communications.

The results of both studies have been published in a report released today by Gather, offering an insight of how firms feel about their use of digital and social media. The report seeks to recommend ways that businesses can unpick the complexity of modern communications through simple, yet effective, frameworks.

One of the key recommendations discussed within the report is to place the stakeholder at the centre of everything, regardless of the channel which they choose to utilise, as well as uncovering the raison d’etre of the businesses, which helps to focus communications strategy across digital and social platforms.

Julian Gorham, Head of Brand at Gather, said: “The world has changed. We’re living in an era of vast digital and media confusion, where brands are increasingly built by the conversations people are having online. We’ve been working with big and small corporates and wanted to have a better understanding of how these organisations feel about their own digital and social media, as well as their various stakeholders’ attitudes towards it.

“This report highlights a void in corporate digital and social media communications that needs addressing. Both digital and social media hold great potential to connect previously disconnected audiences, through the creation of single organising ideas that resonate with each group in a way that’s right for them. Of course, this doesn’t negate the need for strong, clear writing, which can often make a huge different to business communications. Our findings show corporates are clearly waking up to the fact that there are huge gains to be made by adding clarity to their communications.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jessie Winston .

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