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American businesses are in denial about the need to embrace social media. New research finds that 72 percent of businesses that use social media do not have a clear set of goals or a clear strategy for their social media platforms.
This lack of direction is happening despite the fact that 60 percent of Americans use some sort of social media, according to the Pew Research Center. Businesses, however, are not convinced that social media is anything more than a fad or a temporary phenomenon.
Rob Ployhart, a professor of business administration at the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business, believes that the skepticism of businesses comes directly from the fact that they have not been able to see data showing the return on investment from social media.
"There is a lot of hype that goes along with technology," Ployhart said. "After doing this review, I'm convinced that social media is radically different and that existing theories about communications can’t be applied the same way. It puts incredible power in the hands of employees and customers. One person sharing on social media is more powerful than 50 or more people saying it. To be fair, there is way more hype than there is reality, and there is a lack of objective data collected by impartial sources that show a business return."
Ployhart says that the data businesses are looking for will be available within three to five years, making social media more credible in the eyes of some businesses. In the meantime, however, businesses can still utilize social media as a part of their business. Ployhart recommends businesses set clear goals and policies to maximize the impact that social media can have within an organization. Overall, Ployhart says businesses must have confidence in social media above all else in order to reap the benefits that it can offer.
"In today's world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology," Ployhart said. "I'd be surprised if the first few companies that get in there don’t have a lasting competitive advantage."