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May 14, 2009

Top Business Uses of Social Networking: Information Gathering and Marketing Ranked Above Collaboration

For the past few weeks, our TMCnet surveys conducted with research partner IntelliCom Analytics have been examining key aspects of Social Networking in the workplace. With more than six thousand business participants from around the world, the survey findings have shown that companies are viewing and utilizing social networking tools such as blogs and applications like Twitter, MySpace (News - Alert) and Bebo in very similar ways irrespective of global region.

Summary of Earlier Findings
Social networking still predominates in the personal domain, but business use is gaining
  • Although 40% of respondents indicated that they are utilizing social networking applications solely for personal use, nearly 35% indicated that they are also using these tools for business purposes
A sizable segment of end users are still disengaged
  • More than 25% of respondents said they are not currently using – or planning to use – social networking tools in any capacity, whether at work or at home
Business policies lag behind business adoption
  • For those businesses using social networking, more than 65% allow employees to use publicly available applications -- less than half of these businesses have any formal controls or policies
Use of enterprise-grade tools trail publicly available applications by a wide margin
  • Companies using generally available social media applications outnumber those using business-grade tools such as Lotus Connections by nearly 5-to-1
To round out our view of Social Networking, the final survey in the current series examined the specific ways that companies are using these applications in their businesses. With over 1,000 participants, the responses showed a high level of consistency across all global regions.
The top two uses of social networking tools are focused on Information Gathering – both in receiving a stream of real-time data on specific companies of interest, as well as in keeping up-to-date on overall developments and news within particular industries.
Marketing took a close 3rd place, with companies using Social Networking channels and media to influence prospective customers and reinforce brand value.
External and Internal Communications garnered 4th and 5th ranking, with Social Networking tools being leveraged as an effective means for ensuring timely messaging to existing customers as well as employees.
Although Supply Chain Interactions currently show the lowest levels of use, it will be interesting to see how this area evolves. Given the need to safeguard competitively sensitive information, it seems likely that the use of social networking to collaborate with suppliers and partners will show a strong increase as business adoption of enterprise-grade tools becomes the norm, and well-defined policies and controls become standard practice. 

Edited by Greg Galitzine


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