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LinkedIn trumps Facebook in business

LinkedIn is a business platform used mainly for recruitment and professional brand building, says Andre Hugo of Deloitte.

When it comes to using social media as a business tool, LinkedIn is more popular than Facebook, according to the findings of the ITWeb-Deloitte Social Media Survey.

The survey attracted a total of 157 respondents with LinkedIn piping the much-hyped Facebook. The majority (79%) revealed that LinkedIn is their preferred social media tool while Facebook garnered a 77% share.

Other than LinkedIn and Facebook, 68% of the same respondents said they prefer Twitter, followed by blogs (53%), instant messaging (47%), and YouTube (37%).

Greg Comline, a senior manager at Deloitte, concurs with the survey findings, saying LinkedIn has positioned itself as the leading social media site for business for networking, recruitment and collaboration across businesses.

“We tend to find that professionals will keep their Facebook presence for friends and LinkedIn for professional interaction. Likewise, Twitter is being used for broader communication,” says Comline.

In agreement, Andre Hugo, director marketing at Deloitte, says the result was expected as the demographic of the audience that was surveyed was skewed to business people and LinkedIn is a business platform used mainly for recruitment and professional – personal and corporate – brand building.

“Facebook is mainly for engagement on an informal level. I know the Facebook team may disagree with this comment given their focus and move to have users use it as a business platform ie, sponsored stories, fan page like functionality, native and custom apps, news feeds and the places concept.

 “These are all great initiatives on a B2C [business to consumer] level and will lift Facebook's profile as a business tool but it is still early days,” explains Hugo.

Power of the crowd

Hugo believes that the main reason for the lag is the fact that end-users have decided on LinkedIn as their professional platform of choice and Facebook as their 'informal' platform of choice – the power of the crowd, he stresses.

However, the majority (30.09%) of the respondents believe that Facebook is the social media tool that will have the greatest influence on their business and clients. LinkedIn came second on 21.24%.

It also emerged that most organisations (53.98%) do not think that data from social media influences their company's strategy with 46.02% thinking otherwise.

“I think they are missing the boat. It's all data and if you have the correct data analytics engines, you will be able to filter and source the relevant information that will inform you strategy. What could be more powerful than 10 000 fans or followers talking about your brand and their experience with your brand on a daily basis?” notes Hugo.

The survey, however, determined that a lot of organisations are making use of social media. Asked if their business is using social media as a business tool, 60.96% said yes while 39.04% said no.

Commenting on this, Hugo says businesses have realised that social media is not a fad and is the communications channel.

“As a result, they are starting to engage on social media platforms. That said; I don't believe the majority of SA companies understand the power of the platforms and the need to integrate them into one holistic communications strategy.

“We are also behind the curve in terms of commercial adoption of payment mechanisms on the social media platforms compared to Europe and the US.

“Once this is addressed, I believe we will see a far higher penetration, products like Square, MPesa and the like will change the way we use the platforms particularly in a continent where there is a large percentage of people that don't have formal bank accounts,” says Hugo.

Gaining traction

Comline says, as shown in the survey, social media has gained traction for marketing and online reputation management channels.

However, he notes: “One assumes that these numbers may be inflated because some businesses probably consider providing limited levels of social media use as business tools. It does, however, point to the increasing presence of social media within the workplace.”

It also emerged that most businesses (57%) use social media for brand building while 53% indicated that they use it for public relations and marketing, 38% for corporate communications with 28% revealing that they use the tools for learning.

LinkedIn has positioned itself as the leading social media site for business for networking, recruitment and collaboration, says Greg Comline of Deloitte.

Explaining this discovery, Hugo says the evolution of the net from Web 1.0 to Web 3.0 (including social) has followed a publish, search to broadcast trend over the past three decades.

“The 10s are about broadcasting yourself, people have always communicated be it at lunch, a braai, e-mail or via telephone; the social media aspect of Web 2.0 [or] 3.0 allows this to happen quicker, reaching your friends 24/7.

“What are they all talking about? If you distil it to its base level, it is all about a brand and your experience with that brand. Therefore, for a company that is focussed on its brand they would be draft not to be driving PR and brand eminence through social media.”

According to Comline, this finding follows international trends and it is anticipated in future years that there will be greater integration with company information systems.

“As companies become more comfortable with social media, we predict the integration with CRM [customer relationship management] solutions, crowd-sourced innovation platforms and more employee engagement with the way we work,” he says.

Eventually, he adds, we expect the data analytics from social media to inform the corporate strategy and be the early indications of the success or failure for strategic initiatives.

Tangible ROI

On the other hand, almost half (47.79%) of the respondents agree that there needs to be a tangible formal measure of their company's social media return of investment (ROI), while 02.65% disagree. 20.35% were, however, neutral.

Comline says for the high level of social media usage among companies, this was a surprising contrast where there are relatively limited ROI evaluations to illustrate the benefits or failures of social media activity.

“Due to the traceability of social media, there is a significant opportunity to use the information to measure expenditure and the returns.”

In that vein, asked if their companies have a formal social media ROI measurement, 75.22% said no while 16.81% are unsure, and with only 7.96% saying no.

The survey also asked the respondents if they see greater value for social media with 5.31% revealing that they see value from a business-to-business perspective; 30.97% see the value from business-to-consumer point of view while 58.41% said they see the benefit from both sides.

It also emerged that the majority (56.84%) of organisations allow social media use in their companies while 43.16% do not allow.

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