Communications professionals more certain about ROI on social media

On the eve of three days of social media programs in Knoxville, a new survey reveals that Tennessee’s communications professionals are much more certain about the return on investment using social media in 2012 than in 2010 as well as more confident about measuring social media results. Interactive Springboard – a joint venture between Tennessee-based Blue Media Boutique, LLC (a division of software firm Efficience) and Mary Beth West Consulting, LLC – collaborated for a second year with Bryant Research, LLC on the study. Here’s the news release:

Knoxville, Tenn. A new survey reveals that Tennessee’s communications professionals are much more certain about the return on investment using social media in 2012 than in 2010 as well as more confident about measuring social media results.  

Interactive Springboard – a joint venture between Tennessee-based Blue Media Boutique, LLC (a division of software firm Efficience) and Mary Beth West Consulting, LLC – collaborated for a second year with Bryant Research, LLC, to field a statewide survey of Tennessee communications professionals to quantify social media’s perceived benefits to companies and organizations statewide.

The team last fielded the survey in summer 2010.  Both the 2010 and 2012 surveys targeted members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), which has chapters of communications professionals in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Tri-Cities.  

With a 40 percent survey response rate, the 2012 results show that 76 percent of Tennessee communicators think “the return on investment in social media is well worth it,” compared with 62 percent who thought so in 2010. 

On this point, the number of professionals who agreed that this statement was “very true” more than doubled, from 15 percent of respondents in 2010 to 35 percent in 2012. 

Also, a near-total majority of Tennessee communicators (97 percent) agree that “social media is an important component in any communications plan,” compared to 90 percent who agreed in 2010.   

There was an overall decline in the concentration of those who believe that the cost of managing social media is too great for most organizations, from 58 percent in 2010, to 43 percent in 2012. 

“Uncertainty is diminishing quickly about the value and necessity of social media in strategic communications,” said Mary Beth West, principal of public relations firm Mary Beth West Consulting, LLC.  “Communications professionals in Tennessee are getting a stronger foothold in the discipline of using social media effectively and making the case for social media ROI to their management teams.”

“The sophistication level about social media is rising,” said Tori Rose, creative director of Blue Media Boutique. “However, we still see a gap between communicators recognizing the importance of social media and being able to actually implement it in certain areas – like crisis communications, new product development and offering branded mobile apps to build stronger relationships with the public.”

The team’s survey data produced a “gap analysis” measuring the difference between what respondents said social media’s importance is toward accomplishing specific results and, in comparison, how well respondents’ own organizations are using social media to achieve those results themselves.

Just as the 2010 survey reflected, the 2012 gap analysis produced a negative gap score for every item queried – meaning that Tennessee communications professionals reported that their own organizations are underutilizing or underperforming with social media compared to the importance of using social media for particular needs. 

Those needs with the biggest gaps between importance and actual performance: No. 1 – “using social media for crisis communications”; No. 2 – “including social media in new product development”; No. 3 – “offering a branded mobile application to build stronger relationships with stakeholders”; No. 4 – “monitoring social media for comments about the organization”; and No. 5 – “using social media as a tool for building a strong internal culture.”

When asked, Tennessee’s communications professionals most frequently cited a shortage of staff time and the lack of organizational support as the areas where improvements would increase their organization’s success with social media.

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About the Survey Methodology

This census survey of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) members from across the state of Tennessee was conducted online from February to March 2012.  Members from the following chapters participated in the study:  Nashville, Knoxville/Volunteer, Chattanooga/Lookout, Memphis and the Tri-Cities.   The survey achieved an overall response rate of 40 percent and provides unique insight into the opinions of those whose day-to-day responsibilities include managing all manner of media for strategic communications, including social media.

About Interactive Springboard

Interactive Springboard is a joint venture between woman-owned firms Blue Media Boutique and Mary Beth West Consulting, LLC, providing an integrated, research-based approach to social media that supports client marketing communications and business objectives.  www.interactivespringboard.com

About Blue Media Boutique, LLC

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Blue Media Boutique – a division of software firm Efficience – provides creative, technology and marketing services, including design, development, animation, video, illustration, branding, print, e-commerce, database, CMS, search optimization, copywriting, promotions, events and campaigns. www.bluemediaboutique.com

About Mary Beth West Consulting, LLC

Based in Maryville, Tenn., Mary Beth West Consulting, LLC advances clients’ communications, relationships and reputations to meet business and organizational objectives.  The firm’s services include research strategy, integrated marketing communications campaigns; media, community and employee relations programs; interactive media strategy and program management; crisis preparedness; and special events.  www.marybethwest.com

About Bryant Research

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Bryant Research provides custom, proprietary research to clients across a number of industries. Bryant Research has produced award-winning market research counsel, employing a custom blend of quantitative and qualitative methods to inform clients’ marketing communications programs and to facilitate the best business decisions.  www.bryant-research.com

About PRSA

Chartered in 1947, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the world’s largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals, with a community of more than 21,000 public relations and communications professionals across the United States, from recent college graduates to the leaders of the world’s largest multinational firms. PRSA members represent nearly every practice area and professional and academic setting

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