For four years Vehr Communications has been surveying Cincinnati-area business leaders about how and why they use social media. Why? Because it has changed forever the way business relationships are established, maintained and strengthened.
For the past three years we’ve partnered with Enquirer Media to distribute our survey. This year, we heard from 548 people, the most ever, including 116 who said they were bigwigs – from the c-suite.
Just think, when we started in 2010, nobody had heard of Instagram, Pinterest or Google+, Vine and Instagram video didn’t even exist, most business people carried BlackBerry phones and Facebook was still a private company.
So, how have things changed for Cincinnati business people? Some of the changes are dramatic and others less so. We found 5 big trends in our 2013 survey:
1. Business people are using social media more and more. We check social media each day more often (from 58% in 2012 to 66% in 2013). We use our smartphones more often for business (from 37% in 2012 to 40% in 2013) and less often for personal reasons (from 63% in 2012 to 59% in 2013).
2. “Seeing is believing,” is taking on increased significance for us all. Our use of smartphones to record photos and/or videos has grown sharply (from 50% in 2011 to 69% in 2013). We nearly doubled our use of photo-sharing platforms Instagram and Pinterest (from 18% in 2012 to 33% in 2013 and 15% in 2012 to 26% in 2013 respectively).
3. Businesses are using social media more; our reasons stay about the same. Over the past four years, business use of social media has grown from 76% (2010) to 87% (2013). Over that same period, about 50% of all respondents have consistently reported that their most important social media objective is “Brand Awareness.” No other objective reached over 30% in the same period.
4. Formal training and policies still lag for Cincinnati businesses. Given the rise in business use of social media, we were surprised to find a decrease in companies that provide formal training (to 71% in 2013 from 74% in 2012). Only 4 of 10 (41%) said their company had an official social media policy, up only slightly from 2012 at 39%.
5. C-suite employees are engaging more and more in social media. Whether CEO, COO, CFO, CMO or CIO, 98% of these corner office types own smartphones (who are the other 2%, anyway?). 56% of them use the LinkedIn app on their smartphone and 59% check or update social media channels on their tablets.
Business is about relationships – it always has been and always will be – and technology influences how business relationships are established, maintained and strengthened.
From the work we do every day with area companies, and the results of our surveys, social media engagement for Cincinnati-area business people is not a question of if or even when, but of how deeply.
What do you think? Did you learn anything that surprised you from our most recent Social Media Usage Survey? We’d love to hear from you and we encourage you to share our survey with co-workers and on social media.