Survey: Advances in social media difficult to keep up with

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Using social media for brand promotion continues to become more popular, however nearly half of marketing and communications professionals are unsure how to use it effectively.

That is but one of the findings in a survey among 115 in-house marketing and communication professionals undertaken by UK-based consultancy McCann Erickson. Its Social Media Index 2010 indicated that, although almost three out of five respondents currently used social media as a communications tool in their daily jobs – up 22 percent on last year – almost a quarter of respondents found advances in the area difficult to keep up with.

A further 17 percent said that, while they did not employ social media techniques regularly, they were interested in doing so. But 22.4 percent pointed out that, although they would like to understand the medium more, they found it difficult to unearth genuine experts in the field to help them.

"There is clearly an upward trend in overall usage of social media as a marketing communications channel,” said Joanna Randall, head of public relations and social media communications at the firm’s Bristol branch, which conducted the study.

Just under a quarter of marketing and communication professionals are currently denied access to social networking sites by their IT departments, down from 46 percent last year, the study indicated, which makes campaign execution and monitoring impossible for them.

Among those that are in a position to undertake such monitoring, however, by far the most popular online tool was Google Alerts, which is free (45.5 percent of those questioned). Some 37 percent undertake ad hoc monitoring in-house, while Radian 6 is the most popular paid-for tool (14.3 percent).

Twitter, meanwhile, is the social network of choice, with 61 percent of respondents saying that they use it regularly as a means of distributing new stories, up from 28 percent last year.

But about half of those questioned were unsure where ultimate responsibility for social media communications should reside, indicating that it was currently spread between a range of disciplines. Some 23 percent thought it should be handled by PR staff and 11 percent by digital experts.

Interestingly, however, about three out of ten respondents also believed there were simply too many social networks around these days, while about 12 percent thought that they were becoming too commercial.

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