We've staged a major survey with Musterpoint on social media management and where it fits in 2016. Some of the results were surprising. As you can see, there is a worrying gap between seeing a need to manage and the ability to manage.
by Dan Slee
There is a worrying hole in how organisations manage their social media footprint.
People know they should. An overwhelming eight in 10 comms people see the need for social media management.
But just 70 per cent of accounts fall under the umbrella of a social media management solution.
The findings uncover a digital elephant in the room where access is devolved but without theassurance of full oversight.
These are the findings of a survey carried out by comms2point0 with social media management platform Musterpoint.
More than 200 people took part in the study which looked at how the public sector, private sector, fire, police and ambulance and third sector is using social media.
The survey also showed a range of key findings:
- Police, fire and ambulance services have the highest average number of individual social media channels at 47.3 per organisation – almost three times as many as third sector and private sector.
- Public sector organisations have more than 28.9 channels per organisation.
- Housing organisations have on average 14 social media accounts.
- The days of a single corporate account have long gone just 1 per cent of respondents worked for an organisation with just one channel.
- Twitter remains dominant with 100 per cent of organisations using it.
- Facebook is second used by 92.2 per cent of organisations.
- Innovation is limited with WhatsApp and Snapchat being used by less than 12 per cent of organisations.
- 74.7 per cent believe that one person should know all social media passwords.
Social media: Fleet-of-foot to mainstream mature
‘Don’t be an idiot,’ is the politely paraphrased Channel 4 social media policy from the early days of social media in 2008. It remains a good signpost for how you should approach things.
Back in the early days fleet-of-foot was more important than the slow process of an organisation suspicious of new innovation. There was no point drawing up a social media policy before you really understood what social media was and could do. That was like designing a boat before you’d ever seen the sea. But there’s now a strong body of evidence as to what it is, what it does and what an approach should look like. A brief policy will act as an extra guy rope and help you do what you want to do. Have it as a brief framework with broad principles rather than an inspiration squashing telephone directory. A policy also shows that social media has matured.
That more than 80 per cent of organisations have a social media policy shows that the field has evolved from early innovation to more accepted and settled status.
The study respondents were most often looking after social media policy for their organisation with 61.1 taking the responsibility.
In total, 80.4 per cent of organisations have a social media policy with a minority not having one.
Does your organisation have a social media policy?
Yes 80.4 per cent
No 17.7 per cent
Lots of social media channels or few? Just have social media channels that work
The debate back in the day was should an organisation have one or more social media channels.
I argued strongly that a single corporate account wasn’t the answer for a busy, diverse organistion that offered scores of services in scores of places.
Every time Walsall Council countryside ranger Morgan Bowers tweeted a pic of her newt survey from her own account she showed how more could work. People who loved the countryside followed Morgan. That was the content they wanted. Not a mish-mash of things they didn’t want to know.
Experience shows that for every Morgan there is the fashion accessory Twitter account created to keep up with Jones and rarely updated. Once people asked for a poster. Then it was a Twitter account. Now, it is Snapchat. This is the march of progress.
If you have content, a business case and the time then of course a social media account can work.
At the public sector organisation I was at we started with one and ended seven years later with more than 70.
Things to do:
- Run a social media audit every year. What’s working well, not so well and what should be stopped?
- Keep a record of who has access and give them basic training.
- Bring the people who have access together regularly to informally share ideas and best practice.
- Look at how a social media management platform will co-ordinate efforts better.
How many social media channels does your organisation have?
It is striking that blue light services – Police, Fire and Ambulance – have many more channels per organisation than other sectors.
Almost 50 channels per organisation is average with the devolved social media strategy across police forces and fire service accounting for high numbers. Frontline teams are trusted to use social media in a community.
Following behind, the Public Sector has almost 30 channels with a wide discrepancy ranging from just three to 250. Housing has just over 14 with the private sector 10 and NHS 8.7 with third sector lowest with 8.5.
Every organisation is different. Each has different challenges. The broad numbers should only be indicative rather than be used as a yardstick.
Every social media channel should be monitored, active, responsive, human in tone and connected with those around it. This is the most important thing.
What channels does your organisation use?
The four traditional social media platforms are represented amongst those who completed the survey. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are the four most used platforms.
In organisations surveyed, Twitter remains king and is used universally. Certainly, there are still advantages to using the 140-character service. It is open, real-time and as the US Presidential election shows can have an impact on decision-making. For those who are aware of the traditional media landscape, journalists still use Twitter extensively to follow what is being said and then post breaking news.
Yet, movement away from the main four is still slow to take root with WhatsApp and Snapchat onlyused by around 10 per cent of those surveyed.
In your opinion, does every public sector organisation need a social media management platform?
Yes 78.8 per cent
No 11 per cent
Don’t know 10 per cent
If your organisation uses a social media management tool does it cover every account?
Yes 20.2 per cent
No 71.0 per cent
Don’t know 9.0 per cent
Those who think social media management isn’t needed are in the minority. Just 11 per cent rebut the idea that a platform that manages output is needed.
Almost 80 per cent believe a platform is needed yet only two in five have every account covered. This is a significant and for many worrying discrepancy between aim and delivery. Organisations are failing to secure every account through a social media management platform.
A digital elephant in the room has been created. People believe there needs to be some measure of management but know all to well that not all the channels they may be responsible are managed.
The amount of management required may vary from organisation to organisation. Close control and the sign-off of every piece of digital content is at odds with the fast-moving environment of social media. Trust of staff is essential. The risks this poses are sometimes over sold. But the ability to step-in is still needed.
Is it important for one person in an organisation to know the passwords for all accounts?
Yes 74.7 per cent
No 18.8 per cent
Don’t know 7.2 per cent
The issue of scattered passwords is something that should challenge every organisation. In the early days of social media adoption by organisations, there was a battle between laissez faire and central control. The trade-off was a difficult balance to strike. For a while central control had the upper hand. Often this came from comms or IT who in misunderstanding the new form of communication prohibited it. There was an for opening-up social media to service areas and different parts of the organisation. Just as organisations have more than one web page they should have more than one social channel.
However, the downside of this is uncertainty and poor co-ordination. Social channels from an organisation can still maintain their own voice but can collabporate and share key campaigns. In an emergency or a crisis a united voice is vital. The much-publicised live tweeting of the sacking of HMV staff showed the dangers of not keeping a handle on the password. In many organisations this is a ticking timebomb. Other risks include the platform being deleted by departing staff or indeed taken with them.
What feature would you like best about a social media management platform? Tick as many as are important to you.
Ability to keep an overview of what is going on 92.7 per cent
Ability to respond more effectively in a crisis or emergency. 72.4 per cent
Ability to manage incoming messages. 63.3 per cent
Ability to assign incoming messages 53.7 per cent
Ability to remove individual members of staff from access 36.7 per cent
The strength the social media platform has of overview is clear. Almost 93 per cent of survey respondents liked the ability to keep an eye on activity. This should not necessarily be seen as Big Brother monitoring but instead can allow the organisation to see at a glance how platforms are behaving.
A note on our survey partner
MusterPoint was created to overcome these issues by a team of people who have worked in public sector and faced many digital and comms challenges. Take a look at www.musterpoint.co.uk where you can see some short explainer videos and book a quick online demo.
Online survey with 207 respondants. 141 declared as public sector comms, 20 as private sector, 5 as housing, 12 as fire, ambulance or police, 13 as NHS and 15 as Third Sector. Data collected July to September 2016. Distributed through comms2point0 by email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Distributed by Musterpoint by email, Twitter and Facebook.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.
Picture credit: NASA / Flickr