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According to Econsultancy's State of Social 2011 report, produced in partnership with LBi and bigmouthmedia, two-thirds of companies have moved beyond the experimental phase of their social media strategies. 

Following similar surverys in 2009 and 2010, this year’s research also shows that companies are now focused on the ‘big four’ networks. Not only this, but social media activity is more likely to be integrated with other marketing channels and across business functions.

Based on a sample of more than 1,000 businesses online, the report highlights that almost two thirds (64%) of respondents said that they are now beyond the experimental phase compared to 54% a year ago. 

Lyndsay Menzies, CEO of bigmouthmedia and CMO of LBI International N.V., noted that since social media has moved well beyond the land-grab phase, this latest research underlines the fact that brands are now taking this seriously:

Businesses are embracing the opportunity that this presents to connect to their customer base. The increasing convergence of the channels, in particular search and social media, is fuelling adoption as awareness, advocacy and acquisition become intrinsically linked.

More than half of respondents (52%) said that their organisations use Facebook for reacting to customer issues and inquiries compared to only 29% last year.

Similarly, 50% of companies use Twitter for customer service, compared to only 35% in 2010. Half of organisations (51%) are also using Facebook for gathering customer feedback, compared to 37% last year.

The vast majority of companies surveyed use Twitter (87%) and Facebook (82%) as part of their social media marketing or online PR activities. More than two thirds of companies (69%) are using Google’s video-sharing platform YouTube and 57% are using business network LinkedIn.

Econsultancy's research manager Aliya Zaidi added:

When social media industry was in its relative infancy, there was much talk about the wide range of social channels available, including smaller platforms and the rise of niche social networks. In 2011, the social media landscape is dominated by the established ‘Big Four’ social networks, with the majority of companies using Facebook and Twitter for their social media activity.

Relatively small numbers of businesses are using other networks or web properties for social media activity such Google+ (14%), location-based platform Foursquare (15%) or question-and-answer network Quora (3%).

The research has also found that the trend expected to have the biggest impact over the next year is the increased use of mobile and smart devices such as tablets, deemed to be ‘highly significant ’by more than half of responding companies (54%). 

The smartphone is overwhelmingly deemed to be the ‘most persuasive’ device for social media, according to 73% of respondents. Significantly fewer respondents cite other devices, such as the laptop, tablet and desktop computer.

The full report is available to Econsultancy subscribers here.

Vikki Chowney

Published 10 November, 2011 by Vikki Chowney

Vikki is head of community at TMW. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

249 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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There are so many social marketing channels at present that its hard to know how to have a good balance in the social media that is carried out. On the whole, it is best to stick with a couple of mediums and develop a campaign with / from them!

almost 5 years ago

Jeremy Farmer

Jeremy Farmer, Head of Social Media at ISM

Interesting that the headline stat is 64%. I presented a paper yesterday that included a stat of 64% to refer to facebook communities owned by international brands that were completely out of control. Out of control to the point that you could only call them crowds and not communities. Aside from complaints and poor engagement levels, we also found several examples of overt sexual references and blatant racism all playing out on the walls of international brands. Perhaps they should consider going back into the experimental stage.

almost 5 years ago

Vikki Chowney

Vikki Chowney, Head of Social at TMW

64 is the new magic number?

almost 5 years ago


Kevin Taylor

Interesting reading but what was the profile of the 1000 online companies surveyed and how were they selected?

almost 5 years ago

Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

Hi Kevin, we surveyed companies in the Econsultancy user base and also pushed the survey link through social networks.

This of course isn't a perfectly representative sample of businesses because the 'average' small business probably doesn't even have a website, while the companies taking part in our online survey have at least one person with an interest in digital and social media.

But, as per the methodology section in the report, the survey sample has good representation among companies of different sizes and different business verticals. The majority of respondents are based in the UK.

Because of the large numbers of companies surveyed this year and previous years, we have been able to draw out statistically-significant year-on-year trends.

almost 5 years ago


James Debono

I think the results show that companies have realised tht social media is no longer a fad. It is a must have facet of any business moving forward.

The statistic that has the most impact for me is that "45% of companies facilitate user generated content". That is higher than I expected but remarkable all the same.

Regardless of whether that 45% is positive or negative content businesses are truly seeing the power of engaging with the social media community.

almost 5 years ago

Matthew Phelan

Matthew Phelan, Director and Co-Founder at 4Ps Marketing

Very interesting stats. I think the big change over the last 6 months is that brands are slowly realising that social media is not a channel and cannot be seen in isolation. The phrase “companies have moved beyond social media experimentation” is the important part for me.

When a company sets out to “Experiment” they tend to try and isolate all aspects of the experiment so that when they look at cause and effect they can gather some conclusions. The problem with this approach is that social media needs to run across the business and for it to be a fair test it needs to be integrated.

I am personally very excited about what the next 18 months will hold for social media.

almost 5 years ago


Gavin Chase, Social Media Headhunter

A good insight but it would be interesting to know what companies thought social media was in the context of business. My view is that many are still in the sell and tell phase of marketing rather than a more difficult measure of customer engagement. You don't get much of a budget for that!

almost 5 years ago

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