Author: Constantin Măgdălina, Knowledge Management Senior, EY Romania
Social networks have far exceeded the simple role of online socialization between individuals. „To be in the network” is no longer just a generation trend but increasingly a global phenomenon. From invitations to events and product sales to winning presidential mandates, social networks have an important range of utility.
Increasingly studied in universities and adopted in the business environment, social networks worth understanding. At EY Romania we have been conducting for the third year in a row the study The impact of social networks on the Romanian business environment precisely in order to measure this impact.
In this article we intend to present the results of the 2015 edition in comparison with the ones of the 2014 edition. This is only a selection of the analysis results collected from administration of a questionnaire comprising 28 questions answered by 270 representatives of major companies in Romania.
Regarding the use of social networks in the Romanian business environment the findings are the following:
• Promoting the company ranks first: In 2015, 74% of respondents use social networks to promote their company and intend to use them further (on increase from 58% in 2014), while 13% of respondents say they do not use social networks, but plan to use them in the next period (on increase from 28% in 2014). The percentage of those who do not use social networks and do not intend to use them to promote their company is on decrease from 13% in 2014 to 11% in 2015.
• Facebook is the no. 1 platform for communication on social media: The “star” platform in Romania this year remains Facebook with 92%, on decrease by 1% compared to the previous year. At global level, Facebook is the most used platform as well with 93%. In Romania, LinkedIn has recorded a significant growth (+14% y-o-y). LinkedIn is the third ranked platform globally with 71%, overpassed by Twitter on the second place with 79%. On the local level, YouTube shows a +8% growth y-o-y up to 37% (55% globally). In Romania, the second highest growth rate has been recorded by Instagram:+13%, from 7% in 2014 to 20% in 2015 (36% globally).
• Companies don’t have a strategy for social media: In 2015, 44% of respondents said they had a strategy regarding social networks within the marketing team (vs 46% in 2014), and 21% had integrated the strategy at the company level (vs 19% in 2014), only 2% said they had a social media strategy within the commercial team (on decrease from 7% in 2014). On the other hand, the percentage of those who acknowledged that they did not yet have a strategy on social network marketing is on increase from 27% in 2014 to 32% in 2015.
• Companies use social networks on average for 2-3 years: 23% of the Romanian companies use social networks on average for 2-3 years, followed by 20% which have been using social media for 1-2 years. No less than 16%, though, are companies who have been using social media as part of the marketing mix under 1 year. At the other end of the ranking scale there are 22% of the companies which have been using social media for more than 4 years.
• Companies communicate through social media 1-5 hours/week: For 58% of the companies, the communication through social media occupies 1-5 hours weekly (on increase from 54% in 2014). On the 6-10 hours bracket the percentage of responses remains the same (20%), while the responses for interval 11-20 hours weekly has decreased from 16% in 2014 to 9% in 2015. However, the higher levels have increased between 1% and 3%. Globally, 33% of companies communicate via social networks on average 1-5 hours per week, 25% between 6-10 hours per week, while 12% communicate through social media between 11-20 hours weekly.
• The frequency of social networks use dropped in the last year: In 2015 only 36% of respondents say they use social media daily, 5% less than in 2014 and 13% less than in 2013. However, the percentages have grown for those using social media every 2-3 days, from 15% in 2013 and 23% in 2014 to 28% in 2015. The frequency of use of weekly communication through social media also had increased from 22% to 23%. The resistance area of those who use social media once every few months has decreased from 9% to only 3%.
• Facebook is the preferred platform for sponsored ads: The most used social media channels for increasing the corporate awareness through “sponsored ads” are: Facebook ads (74%), Google ads (47%), and LinkedIn ads (30%). It is easy to note that for many channels used for “sponsored ads” in Romania the percentages are similar to those identified in the global study “2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report – How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses”.
• Marketing department is in charge with social media activity: Although on decrease (from 51% to 46%), the marketing department remains number one in the top of departments in charge with social networks. However, a significant percentage of companies (28%) say they do not have a department dealing with the communication on social networks. There are companies in which this activity belongs to a special department dedicated to the communication on social networks (12%), to HR (7%) or to IT (1%). But the most important aspect is that only 12% of companies have a department dedicated to communication on social media.
• Companies manage their campaigns on social media by themselves: More and more respondents (on increase from 64% in 2014 to 75% in 2015) say they manage their own campaigns on social media. Increasingly less externalized these services (14% in 2014 vs 6% in 2015).
• Design and campaigns development are outsourced: Regarding the activities on social networks, 46% of companies say they outsource the design and development, 23% outsource the content creation, and 16% each outsource market research and public relations (PR). The strategy is outsourced only by 10% of companies, while updating statuses is kept in house by no less than 90% of companies.
• Companies do not measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media activities: In 2015, the percentage of those “undecided” about measuring the of return on investment in social media activities has decreased (from 52% in 2014 to 41% in 2015) in favor of those who “totally agree” (on increase from 6% to 18% in 2015), and “agree” (on increase from 28% in 2014 to 31% in 2015). In 2015, only 10% respondents “disagree” or “totally disagree” regarding the company’s possibility to measure the return on investment of activities on social networks compared to 14% in 2014.
The online socio-sphere personalizes the relationship of the companies with social networks users. For companies, building their online identity to lead the consumer to prefer them is essential but with risks involved. Consistency of the message transmitted, the frequency of use, differentiated strategy on relevant communication channels and the measurable purpose of the social networks activities can generate rejection or acceptance of the brand. Consumer’s feedback is vital. Relevant used, social media helps companies to stay up-to-date.