UK businesses slow to take up social media

UK businesses must embrace social media or they will fall behind their global competition, warns a new study by TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony. The research canvassed the opinions of senior marketers on the importance of social media.

The study, which included companies such as Sony, Diago, GlaxoSmithKline and Hewlett Packard, reveals that only 18% of executives from participating UK companies see blogging and social networking as valuable, compared to 50% of US businesses questioned.

Companies in the UK are also lagging behind foreign counterparts in getting up to speed with social media, with 22% of participants claiming that they are still “learning”, compared with a global average of 18%. Only 9% of UK businesses claimed to be at the “experimentation” stage.

The survey found that 23% of respondents blame a lack of senior management commitment for the slow uptake, while 36% say it is due to a lack of skills. However, budget restrictions were not seen as hurdles in the UK, compared with a 10% global average.

It says that viral marketing in social networks is also disregarded by domestic companies and, according to 25% of UK executives, viral campaigns have very little brand impact. In contrast, three quarters of US executives believe the opposite.

Jim Nail, chief strategy & marketing officer, TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony, says: “It is surprising to see that the UK is lagging so far behind other major nations in terms of recognising the business potential for social media.

Nail adds: “Everybody we spoke to thought that social media would have a big impact in future. Surprisingly, however, our study shows that many business executives are still new to social media, which points to a large gap between attitudes and action. And nowhere is this more evident than in the UK. If senior managers continue to disregard social media and fail to resource related campaigns appropriately, UK businesses will put themselves at a severe disadvantage.”

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