The advantages of having a mature strategy for social media use are substantial, and well understood by modern companies. Constant effort is required, however, in order to retain these benefits.

More and more companies are using Web 2.0 technology – micro-blogging, social networks, etc – and are increasingly able to reap the benefits from them. This is the conclusion of a McKinsey Institute report published on 23 November on a global study carried out among 4,200 company managers from all market sectors. Some 77% of those surveyed claim to use at least one Web 2.0 tool in the workplace, while 50% of companies have made social networks available at work and 41% have made blogs available. These two social technologies top the list. As one would expect, the high-tech sector is the most advanced in using social technologies, with 84% of companies equipped to use them. But even in less obviously adventurous sectors, such as finance, the rate is still over 60%.

Increasing awareness of potential advantages 

The analysts say that this trend is driven by an increasing understanding among companies of the potential advantages of Web 2.0 technologies. This is especially true when it comes to companies’ external activities – sales activity, business partnerships, etc. For example, 69% of those surveyed reckon that use of these technologies definitely has a beneficial effect on their companies’ marketing efforts, as against 63% in 2010. Similarly, 65% say that social technologies are useful when it comes to obtaining information on partners and suppliers, versus 57% a year ago. It’s interesting to note that companies which are using web-based tools both internally – using a corporate network, and externally – via social networks, blogs etc report that they achieve greater internal improvements than companies that are only using Web 2.0 tools internally.

The strategy calls for constant effort

The same conclusion holds for companies which have developed only an external social strategy. However, it’s also important to note that such benefits cannot be taken for granted indefinitely. The study highlights the fact that a large number of companies have given up on their use of social networks. Almost half of all companies that were connected to an external social network - Facebook, Twitter, etc - in 2010 were no longer connected in 2011. The fact is that it takes far less time to lose the benefits of a social strategy than to implement the strategy in the first place.