In addition to the companies, numerous potential customers were also surveyed. A large proportion (83 %) stated that they regularly use social media. Social networks are particularly popular among consumers between 18 and 29 years (95 %) and between 30 and 39 years (94 %).
A majority (73 %) use the platforms to find out about company products and services. The share is highest in the 18-29 age group (85%), followed by the 30-39 age group (76%).
“The use of digital channels as communication media is increasingly becoming a success-critical element of companies’ strategies,” explains Dirk Schulte, Managing Director of Gelbe Seiten Marketing Gesellschaft.
Social networks as a success factor for companies
The study also shows that corporate attitudes towards social media have changed significantly. Three quarters of the companies surveyed now believe that social media can have a positive impact on business development, compared to only 58 percent in the previous year.
When it comes to the choice of platforms for corporate communication, Facebook seems to continue to lead the way. Almost 85 percent of the companies surveyed use this channel to interact with their clientele. On Facebook’s heels comes Instagram with a usage score of about 62 per cent, while YouTube is in third place with just over 29 per cent.
Consistent engagement on these platforms allows businesses to expand their audiences. In fact, most consumers expect businesses to have a presence and professional presence on these channels. Facebook was cited by about 61 per cent of respondents as the preferred platform for professional business presences, followed by Instagram at about 50 per cent and YouTube at 44 per cent.
These shifts highlight the increased importance of social media as effective communication and sales channels and show how consumer expectations are changing in the digital age.
Internationally, Instagram is the leader
Data from market research firm AudienceProject shows that internationally, the social network Instagram leads the way in corporate content distribution. A large proportion of users (90%) use the platform to subscribe to corporate content. In response, more and more businesses are opting to buy Instagram followers to increase their reach on the social network and reach more potential customers.
Customers see trend as positive
The latest findings show an improved consumer response to businesses’ social media presence compared to last year. Some 14 per cent of survey participants rated their use of the formats as very good and another 35 per cent as good. In total, this is close to 50 percent of customers, an increase of almost 20 percentage points compared to the previous year. Despite this positive trend, there is still room for optimisation, as about 29 percent of the customers rate the company presences in social networks as less good or bad. The conclusion is clear: high-quality, informative content could be the key component for an even more successful use of social media channels by companies.
“No company can close its eyes to the fact that consumers increasingly expect to find companies on Facebook, Instagram and the like and to be professionally informed there,” says Schulte.
Marketing and acquisition in the social networks
It seems that a growing number of companies have recognised the importance and possibilities of social media. Currently, more than 72 percent of them use social media mainly for marketing and acquisition, compared to 90 percent last year. The shift in focus is towards aspects such as community building (45%), customer service and complaint management (48%), internal communication (43%). In addition, companies are increasingly using the high reach of social networks as a means to recruit professionals (42 %).
One of the attractions of social media for companies is that it provides an efficient platform to better reach customers. In fact, 81 per cent of companies reported that they are able to reach customers more effectively on these platforms, an increase of 26 per cent from the previous year. Some 26 per cent of companies reported that they are very successful in attracting and serving customers through social media, while 55 per cent rate their success as good.
Dirk Schulte emphasises the importance of a professional presence on social media for companies. It is no longer an option not to engage with social media – rather, it has become a necessity to remain competitive in today’s business environment.
“Whether B2B or B2C, no business should underestimate the possibilities of new media, but should boldly seize the opportunities,” Schulte explains.
Less rejection by companies
Despite the general trend towards using social media, there are still companies that decide against a presence on these platforms. Four main reasons are cited: lack of understanding of the benefits, satisfaction with existing forms of advertising, lack of staff know-how and the assumption that their own target group is not represented on social media.
In the last year, the percentage of companies that share these views has decreased from 77 to 34 percent. At the same time, the percentage citing lack of expertise as an obstacle has dropped from 24 to 14 percent. Interestingly, however, the willingness of companies that do not currently use social media channels to engage with the topic in the future has decreased. Only 12 percent of the companies surveyed said they planned to deal with social media in the future.