Social Networking’s Impact on Modern Business

January 13, 2010 - 38 Comments

Here at Cisco we keep a close eye on the evolution of social networking in the enterprise. While many companies are still determining the best ways to leverage these tools, one thing is for sure – social networking will continue to shape the ways in which businesses collaborate and communicate, inside and outside the enterprise.

Today Cisco announced the findings of a study on social networking and its adoption in the enterprise.  Based on interviews with more than 100 companies from more than 20 countries, the study explores the primary tools being used, which areas of business are adopting them and how they’re putting them to use, and some of the challenges that are arising.

One of the lead researchers, Neil Hair of the Rochester Institute of Technology, discusses two of the study’s most interesting findings:  the proliferation of social media tools to new areas of the business and the growing need for governance models. 

Cisco Services SVP Nick Earle also weighs in about the impact he’s seeing social media and collaboration tools have on companies around the world and what businesses can do to better manage them.

Highlights of the study include: 

  • Of the organizations interviewed, 75 percent identified social networks as the consumer-based social media tools they primarily use, while roughly 50 percent of the group also identified extensive use of microblogging.
  • Social networking tools are spreading into core areas of the value chain, including the marketing and communications, human relations, and customer service departments.
  • Small and medium-sized businesses are actively using social networking channels to generate leads, but this remains a growth opportunity for larger companies.
  • Only one in seven of the companies that participated in the research noted a formal process associated with adopting consumer-based social networking tools for business purposes, indicating that the potential risks associated with these tools in the enterprise are either overlooked or not well understood.
  • Only one in five participants identified any policies in place concerning the use of consumer-based social networking technologies in the enterprise.
  • Only one in 10 respondents noted direct IT involvement in externally facing social networking initiatives. Although the IT department is typically not involved as a primary decision maker, respondents did recognize the need for these tools to scale and properly integrate with existing business processes to reap maximum benefits.

All of the details on the study are posted on News@Cisco.

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  1. Nobody will argue that social networking can increase sales and loyalty in modern business.I suppose, cisco can bridge company needs on struggling in modern business by using social networking.

  2. what does he next eldorado”” mean?”

  3. I can provide a small example with the use of thing like twitter in today’s business. Just notice that even when a product is not released or announced, you can find it on sites like Twitter and Facebook before. It has become another option to gain popularity.

  4. Social networking is definitly the future… the next killer app will probably be some xml based aggregator we can use to finally get control over all of our web 2.0 accounts in one place. Cisco, call me. I’m available. LOL

  5. Social networking was first balked at by the big companies, and now ironically they are the ones rushing to take advantage of them. Although I don’t think it is needed by every company (saw a real estate company the other day with a link on their web site follow us on twitter””), some companies just don’t need to waste their time. However everyone shouldn’t dismiss it simply because it is primarily used by generation x/y’ers”

  6. It is difficult to apply social networking to the B2B arena. For many of customers in our hardware industry buying online is a huge leap without expecting them to be fully participating in the social media scene.

  7. Well, i think that social networking is a great thing that is going to find results. It is used as a medium of communication, it is a great medium to do online business. Thanks to cisco for taking interest in the study of using social networking as a marketing tool.

  8. I agree with this. Social networking is now very popular especially in the Philippines, from Frienster to Facebook. No wonder, businesses are now getting into it and so with the politicians running in the 2010 Presidential election.

  9. I think one of the things that makes social networks popular is the fact that there is not so much advertising and corporate BS. I think as this continues and people are bombarded with ads, it will have a negative effect on it’s popularity… just my 2 cents.

  10. I agree with Moni and Washburn. Companies have to be careful not too devote too much time and money in blind hope that this is the next Eldorado””Social networks such as twitter and Youtube have already become saturated with adverts which no one reads. If you want a specific product you will google and not go to twitter. These are word of mouth networks which propelled Susan Boyle in the states. But you need to hear or see the product. Selling toilet seats will not work unless you make it funny and get your brand known.”

  11. As everyone knows SEO tactics change on a weekly basis. However, social networking is in my opinion the most important of them all. Thanks for the great read and video!

  12. Social networks are very usefull

  13. Social networking is a great tool for marketing and doing business online. However, there might be some loss in its effects, since the networks get oversaturated with marketing information. So the alternative needs to be found.

  14. I’d like to share an example here in Taiwan. Many companies see the social networking as a double-edged knife, they want to utilize it to increase their exposure so enlarge the number of their clients, and expedite the communication with important customers. However, in the same time, they are also affraid of security problems and inappropriate expressions made by their employees. About two months ago, an employee of the biggest human resource bank in Taiwan was fired due to send spreadsheets to her niece and ask her to help making some statistic graphs thru MSN during working hours. Then her employer claimed that the files were confidential”” and her behavior had violated the company’s policy. If you can read Chinese, here is a report about the event I mentioned above.”

  15. I run a very small business in Southern Italy and I use all the social media a lot. I find very useful Facebook, then Flickr and Linked in. I think social media are very powerful for small business because they allow to reach clients every where in the world. I agree with the fact that lots of unprofessional people/competitors just start spamming.But with social media the power is really in the consumer’s hands! If you don’t deliver any substance they will review you on the social media and all your contacts”” will know!!”

  16. I do agree with this article.

  17. Social media is best used by businesses to grow conversation. Community-driven conversation backed and/or directed by the business reaps increased user support and understanding.

  18. Ever since Social Media and Social Networking came into our world, it has become one of the strong marketing strategy for companies to market their products and services. For instance they hire someone just to update and manage their account and keep it updated everytime they release or endorse a new product. Traffic going into their website is also increased due to Social Networking.

  19. I couldn’t agree more. Social media and various social networks have allowed companies and customers to conversate in unique platforms. If you have a problem with a company, chances are, you can voice your concerns to them via twitter or facebook. Most of the time, they will seek resolution, just to avoid the bad press.On the flip side, companies that take advantage of these networks have the opportunity to find a more specific, targeted audience. I’m glad to see so many businesses entering into this arena.

  20. No doubt social media has impact on businesses in a great deal.People are using them to promote business and they are useful at very right moment but no one can say that it continues in the same manner a lot of unprofessional s join social media groups and just start spamming..This will definitely effect serious campaigners.

  21. Much to my surprise Twitter is in our Top 10 of referrers. However, I remain sceptical amount the quality”” of these visitors. We get very few referrers from Facebook though. After Twitter, Digg is the next best social site for us.”

  22. I use social media in near every day interaction with potential customers. I use Twitter to tweet as well as a Facebook group, Youtube page and Flickr group for my photography business.These are free and when utilised properly can act as traffic drivers to the site which in theory leads to more customers. Many pay for adverts etc which may work for them but for a small business, social media is free and effective I find.

  23. Thanks Cisco for taking the initiative to study the effect and trends of B2B social networking as a marketing tools. As a marketing manager in a storage company, I am interested to find out who we can leverage SoMe in our integrated marketing programs, and how our partners can benefit from these tools.

  24. In the modern business climate it’d be silly to not take up (online) social networking as another means of communicating with consumers. It is a very direct means compared to a lot of other methods, and this is where people are now. Good article!

  25. I think MySpace is out of the business right now, its the worst social network and 90% of people’s profile is FAKE!At the beginning was very very good, but now I think that Facebook is the best choice, have more to offer to members and the ads are well done. I know a lot of friend that use ads on facebook and have really high CTR.Linkedin is another good one, but too bad that they ask you money for a lot of services, I bet they will make more money if they let the website free, because they could gain more users and action so more visits and more ads

  26. I agree that Social Media Marketing is now an important part of the Marketing Pie,”” however I also agree with Raygen that this type of marketing is evolving into a spam mine. Unfortunately, not all small businesses will be able to keep up with the extensive growth in this type of marketing. However, social media marketing doesn’t exactly hurt any legitimate business when it comes to improving customer relations and increasing “”brand awareness.”” In the case of Social Media, having something is better than nothing.”

  27. Social network is a part of business now – I believer twitter really defined that with the companies adopting twitter accounts to relate and communicate with customers. Social networking makes the customers feel as if they are part of the company and they can actually make a difference which is very powerful. Great to hear RIT is making an impact and representing Rochester – we need something nice here.

  28. Interesting fact. I was invited to speak to some business students at a University in Toronto this past week. I asked these 20 year old students, how many of you use social networking sites – 95% of the students put up their hands. Most who use these sites said they prefer interacting with others via these web 2.0 platforms vs. the traditional web 1.0 model. What is happening – web 2.0 is being embedded into the new generations as a status-quo. The world is changing and the way we communicate and deliver messages to the population is as well.

  29. I think many companies are past the question should we engage in social media”” and on to the more important questions “”what is our strategy”” and “”how do we measure success””. 2010 will see more and more organizations linking their social media efforts to profit drivers and tracking financial returns on their investment.”

  30. Social media really can be determinant for a sucess of a brand/product. As most people, i like to known others opinion before investing in something, and social networks have useful information about that.

  31. I concur that Social Media is a great tool for businesses to get their message and brand out there. It also helps build quality relationships with the younger generation of future consumers. The question remains though, how long will these services last? Myspace has turned into spam dump. Facebook is getting there slowly but surely, and Twitter is beginning to. The fact that you can post Tweets with clickable links without having to at least solve a captcha is troubling to me.I use Twitter, but I never click on urls posted in tweets via url shortening services.I also think risk management and educating people and companies about the danger adn privacy implications are a must for social media use.Great post!

  32. Social Media / Networking is the future. Everyone is connected and everyone is using these means to communicate today / do business. It is a necessity for corporations to commence adopting web 2.0 to their business strategies. Some people have gotten it – but there remains many others who have not.

  33. There’s no doubt that adopting a good social media strategy can be an economical and effective technique to improve customer relationship and increase brand awareness. But that doesn’t mean we should blindly follow what other people & companies are doing.

  34. agreed ..One of the lead researchers, Neil Hair of the Rochester Institute of Technology, discusses two of the study’s most interesting findings: the proliferation of social media tools to new areas of the business and the growing need for governance models.

  35. I totally agree that social networking has been a big impact into the business world. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are growing fast because it attracts a lot of people around the world to join this community, and they earn revenue for having millions who joined and being active. Some other social networking sites are also developing each other to let people join their program. I was impressed on how these two men explained their thoughts about the development of social networking.Thanks for the update.

  36. Yea..if 75% has shown you a good indication to go into social networking, so you are in the right way…social networking is really one of business tool for marketing purposes nowadays..if we follow the current trend, we are ahead of others.

  37. I think ‘how do we implement social media into our business model?’ will be the biggest question for businesses in 2010. When these concerns are addressed and more formal working models become apparent to big business, some social sites are going to soar and some are going to collapse. It will be interesting to see which social media sites stand after the dust has settled.

  38. The company´s are really getting the possibilities – finally.