If so, you are not alone. New research from econsultancy shows a whopping 85% of brands believe increased social media marketing by competitors will have a significant impact on their social media plans in 2012.

With all innovation, there is an adoption curve (see below) – it looks like the social media laggards are worried they might be losing competitive advantage. For good reason – there is growing empirical evidence that investment in social media has financial benefit. For example, McKinsey showed a correlation between a ‘social business’ and higher profit margins and market share.

Social business

Where are you on the social media adoption curve?

So how scared should you be? Before you panic, work out how you are actually doing versus your competitors. Using various tools, you can benchmark some key indicators such as:

Social share of voice

What proportion of the consumer conversation in your market place is your brand or company getting? This can be shown simply as a percentage and tracked over time. Even if you are not doing proactive social media activity – you may be surprised how many consumers are actually talking about your products, services or staff.

Reach

All the research shows (understandably) that the C-Suite tend to focus on the top-line numbers. So you need to compare Facebook fan numbers and Twitter followers so you can get a gauge on the potential reach of rival brands.

Engagement and sentiment

But the big numbers don’t tell the whole story. You need to dig a bit deeper –who is actually engaging with the brand – is it the sort of consumers you would like to be talking to? Are they talking positively or negatively about your rivals?

Once you have all this information, it’s time to work out a social strategy for your business. Convene a cross-functional team (ideally HR, marketing, PR and customer service) to decide on priorities and focus.

If you need help, give us a call and we can help you refine your social media strategy.

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