Written by J-P De Clerck, who is an experienced content, conversion and social media consultant. Like Mindjumpers, he is associated with Social Marketing Forum. You can connect with him on Twitter @Conversionation

A survey by US-based Digital Brand Expressions shows that a lot of companies integrate social media into their strategy unprepared and without a clear plan.

This is not the first time that a lack of goals, planning, cross-divisional cooperation, and even strategy regarding social media marketing shows up in a survey. However, there is no reason to exclude social media marketing from a broader framework, and to approach it as an ‘island’ stripped of any form of strategy.

The fact that it does happen so often can be destructive for the company’s actions and reputation and it gives social media marketing in general a bad image as well. Even more important: it often doesn’t provide any value whatsoever for the people using social media (and therefore, neither for the company).

Digital Brand Expression found that 78% of all participating companies practice social media marketing. Yet a mere 41% of those actually have a strategic plan for their use of social media, in which is put down just what the goals are, which division is doing what, how the company involves its employers, etc. Still, 88% of the companies without a social media plan finds it important to actually have one.

The conclusion is simple: a lot of companies aren’t ready for social media marketing because they don’t succeed in developing a coherent strategy as well as a clear plan that goes beyond the borders between different departments. This silo-way of thinking, the walls between the various company divisions, a lack of coordination, and a bad insight into the possibilities of social media undoubtedly play a role in this. Recent studies that fruitlessly debated on just who within the company is responsible for social media (PR, marketing, etc…) pointed this out already.

Several key players are left out of the social media plan and strategy

The survey also looked at who is responsible for creating, carrying out, and maintaining a strategic social media communications plan (so not the actions themselves, but the plan) in the everyday working environment.

The marketing divisions take the lead in this with 71%. The ‘corporate communications’ scored 29%, while sales and IT are both good for 10%. The management team only scored 16%, which is a shame, since drawing a social media marketing strategic plan demands the executive team’s cooperation, in the very least.

At the companies that do have a social media marketing plan, it turns out that quite a lot of divisions are barely included, if at all. With an impressive 94%, marketing is almost always involved. Public relations follows with 71%, while sales ended third with 55%. Yet customer service is only included in 26% of all cases, and HR only in 16%. Management is barely included at all.

The fact that customer service is included so little, means that many companies don’t yet realize that the role of customer service is getting more and more important in these times in which customer satisfaction is so crucial. The overwhelming presence of marketing and PR shows that a lot of companies overlook a large part of the essence of social media marketing. And the fact that HR (and therefore also the company’s employees) is included so sporadically, emphasizes this conclusion even more.


  • Very true. Social Media is a tool which can be used for one s benefit if used properly and strategically. The power of Social Media is immense but it needs to be channelized to provide maximum benefit. Along with customers / prospect customers even employees should be involved in the same. Employees are the best brand ambassadors and help spread the message virally. Satisfied customers also post public appreciation which in turn helps build a good brand image