The age of Social Media is upon us. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are now household names, and for many of us, have become integral parts of our daily lives. Businesses too are adopting the world of Social Media, and an astounding number of companies are using social media as a component of Public Relations and Marketing Campaigns. But how many of these companies are using social media effectively?

A report published in 2012 by the Harvard Business Review titled, “The New Conversation, Taking Social Media from Talk to Action” gathered data from over 2100 companies, and provides an excellent analysis on how companies are using social media channels.

Out of the 2100 companies surveyed, a large 79% of them reported they are currently using, or planning to use, social media. Interestingly though, only 12% of the companies surveyed felt that they were currently effective users of social media.

As the Harvard Business Review put it, “Despite the vast potential social media brings, many companies seem focused on social media as a one-way promotional channel and have yet to capitalize on the ability to not only listen to, but analyze, consumer conversations and turn the information into insights that impact the bottom line.”

Clearly, many companies are struggling to use social media to its maximum potential. Focusing on the 12% of “effective users” in the report sheds some light on what makes social media effective. The report featured key findings that highlight the characteristics that the effective users share. Here is a summary of these characteristics:

  1. Sixty-three percent of the effective users said they have developed and implemented a social media strategy. They have moved beyond seeing social media as a “shiny object” or fad, and have started to see it as a part of their overall marketing strategy.
  2. Effective users are far more likely to use more social media channels – 4 or more.
  3. Effective users are more likely to monitor trends, research new product ideas via social networks, have an online user group for customers, and collect and track customer reviews on their website. They know where customers are talking about them on the web and prioritize their social media activities accordingly.
  4. Effective users are focused on measurements. They use of metrics and analytic tools to measure their efforts as well as the social conversations about them.
  5. Finally, effective users were also far more likely to integrate their social media monitoring solution with their other marketing solutions, demonstrating an integrated approach to their social media initiative.

According to the report, “It will take new tools and strategies to create what Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist, describes as a new reality in harnessing the power of social media. ‘Too many companies have not evolved from what I call ‘shout marketing’ — think TV, newspapers, magazine ads — to influence by initiating and participating in conversations with consumers,’ he said. ‘There needs to be a generational shift. ”

Take a look at the report , and let us know what you think – http://www.sas.com/resources/whitepaper/wp_23348.pdf