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.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here