Social Media Gets Respect From C-Suite

Study sponsored by Jive shows executives are exploiting social media for work (or, at least, they think they are), perhaps even more than "millennials."

David F Carr, Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

June 29, 2011

5 Min Read

Executives See Social Media As Productivity Booster

Executives See Social Media As Productivity Booster

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Executives See Social Media As Productivity Booster

Social media in business is gaining increasing acceptance and usage among executives, according to a study commissioned by Jive Software.

In some categories, social business software seems to be garnering even more acceptance in the executive ranks than from millennial generation workers. For example, 82% of executives said they use social media in their work, compared with 58% of working millennials, according to the study. More predictably, 93% of millennials said they belonged to one or more social networks for personal use, compared with 85% of executives.

Executives were also the most enthusiastic about saying they could improve their productivity by 10% or more if social media would allow them to reduce the time spent in meetings and conference calls (73%), searching for information and answers (68%), and reading and responding to email (70%).

Jive trumpeted overall findings, like that 66% of executives "believe that social applications for business represent a fundamental shift in how work will get done and how companies will engage with customers" and 53% agreed they must adopt social business or risk falling behind. Executives and millennials agreed social technologies will fundamentally change how business gets done, with 73% in both categories agreeing with that statement.

"A huge majority agree social platforms are fundamentally changing the way we're connecting and sharing work," said Adam Mertz, senior product marketing manager at Jive, which offers enterprise communication and collaboration software.

The survey also appears to show that usage of internal social software tools is even more prevalent than market-facing uses of social media, such as having formulated a Facebook strategy or employing social media monitoring and engagement tools. Some of these statistics could be a factor of how the market researchers defined terms and phrased the questions.

The study was conducted by the market research firm Penn Schoen Berland and included 301 executives (defined as VP or above, or managers with authority over social business initiatives), 301 millennial-generation workers (22 to 34-year olds who use a computer at work at least 20 hours a week), and 300 general knowledge workers. Social business was defined for purposes of the survey as "strategies for social networking, collaboration software, social media practices, and/or social communities." Shoshana Deutschkron, a VP in the San Francisco office of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, said the survey was not biased toward Jive customers and respondents were not told who the survey's sponsor was.

Because social software was defined as including online collaboration, it's possible some of the organizations who said they had it partially or fully implemented were not talking about the kind of full-blown social software suite Jive and its competitors are promoting. Conversely, some of those millennials might not see the collaboration software they are presented with at work measuring up to their idea of what constitutes a social network.

Mertz said he suspected some of those who said they had partially implemented an internal social network were referring to a few scattered elements, like wikis and blogs.

Overall, 21% said their companies had fully implemented an internal social network, 28% claimed a partial implementation, 14% said it was something they would implement over the next year, and 21% said they had no plans. The study assigned a composite score to these responses, awarding double points for a full implementation, partial credit for a planned implementation, and subtracting for those who said they had no plans to implement. This "implementation score" factored out to 56 points for internal social networks, compared with 53 for an external community or forum on the company website, 52 for having a Facebook strategy, 49 for social media monitoring and engagement, and 24 for having a Twitter strategy.

Social business software also appears to be more widely implemented by midsize companies (500 to 999 employees) than by those with over 1,000 employees. For example, 35% of midsize companies said they had implemented an internal social network (implementation score: 90), versus 19% of large companies (implementation score: 46). Along the same lines, 24% of midsize companies said they had a fully implemented Facebook strategy, compared with 14% of large companies.

Even though many small businesses have other things on their minds, Mertz said this finding makes sense to him because large businesses must involve more stakeholders in social media strategy "so it could take a long time to make a decision and implement, company-wide."

Having recently launched an apps market for add-ons to its software platform, Jive also asked for feedback on how many people have downloaded apps for work or personal use (despite the use of the word "downloaded," this was meant to include Web as well as phone or PC apps). According to the survey, 69% of executives have downloaded at least one app for work. Seventy percent of executives and 51% of millennials have downloaded at least one Web-based application for work use, either on their mobile device or personal computer, while 92% of executives and 82% of millennials believe those apps increased their productivity, according to the survey.

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About the Author(s)

David F Carr

Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

David F. Carr oversees InformationWeek's coverage of government and healthcare IT. He previously led coverage of social business and education technologies and continues to contribute in those areas. He is the editor of Social Collaboration for Dummies (Wiley, Oct. 2013) and was the social business track chair for UBM's E2 conference in 2012 and 2013. He is a frequent speaker and panel moderator at industry events. David is a former Technology Editor of Baseline Magazine and Internet World magazine and has freelanced for publications including CIO Magazine, CIO Insight, and Defense Systems. He has also worked as a web consultant and is the author of several WordPress plugins, including Facebook Tab Manager and RSVPMaker. David works from a home office in Coral Springs, Florida. Contact him at [email protected]and follow him at @davidfcarr.

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