But 45% report that finding the right skills and resources is the biggest challenge. Creativity dominates the skills requirements for managing real-time social engagement, according to the latest report from social digital specialists, immediate future.

A survey of blue chip brands reveals that 75% consider creativity the most important skill requirement for social engagement, followed by customer service (42%) and social media knowledge (40%). Yet when asked about the biggest challenges in deploying real-time engagement, 45% suggest it is difficult to find the right skills and resource.

“There has been much debate as to whether real-time social engagement is the future or just another fad”, says Katy Howell, CEO at immediate future. She continues: “Our research reveals that top brands are certainly focused on real-time communications with over three quarters believing that it increases audience engagement. But whilst companies see the value, there are a number of operational and skills challenges to overcome – resourcing for creative capability is one of them.”

The report benchmarks how brands are managing real-time social engagement. It uncovers the benefits, challenges, tools and operational preferences to give a snapshot of how companies are facing the new, more agile, communications.

The challenge isn’t just around finding the right resources. With 75% of companies managing social media in-house, there are operational issues too. In fact two in five brands find creating ‘content on the fly’ and personalising content difficult.

Processes are not always aligned to a more creative approach. Over 50% of those managing social in-house are doing so as part of other communications and marketing roles. Only 6% consider a regular creative brainstorm is best practice and just 3% of brands believe that you need dedicated social media resource.

Katy sums up: “Brands are serious enough about social to start to bring the capabilities in-house. They are keen to exploit the real-time relationship with customers. But there is a way to go before best practice can be achieved. And this won’t start until operational and resource issues are resolved”.


The report produced by social digital consultancy, immediate future, can be downloaded for free at

For more information please contact:

Sarah Sharkey
020 8547 1830


With 10 years’ social media experience in helping brands create robust and actionable social media strategies, immediate future is one of the most respected independent social media consultancies in the UK. immediate future are experts in real-time social engagement, offering services including:

• Training for your team
• Social sprint services that deliver community management with ‘on the fly creativity’. Expertise built on managing the social profiles for Sony Music’s Syco (across 14 artists), Hotpoint, Thomson Reuters and more
• Proving the value of real-time social. Everything from up-front planning and a roadmap, through to measurement grids and evaluation frameworks. We bring insights to life with actionable recommendations.
immediate future are official social media trainers for the Institute of Direct Marketing and Chartered Institute of Marketing. They have authored book chapters, contributed to the IAB social media council and are founding members of the CiPR social media panel.

Client experience
Sony Europe, Staples Europe, EC Harris, Ideal Shopping Direct, BBC, Diageo Global, Sony Music, Ubisoft, Selfridges, Indesit, Post Office, Hotpoint, JD Williams, General Medical Council (GMC),HoMedics, Festo, IBM Tealeaf, HSBC, BT, Royal Collection Trust, ASOS, Mirror Group, NSPCC, EMI, AVG, Thomson Reuters, Baileys