Canadian companies are starting to recognize the power of online engagement through social media. The majority feel that social media offers an invaluable competitive advantage. However, many also believe that online engagement is something they would rather not engage in, but increasingly feel obligated to implement.
Interestingly, Canadian businesses of all kinds are currently using social media; however, social media use is most prevalent within large, youthful organizations – especially those with 500 or more employees (78 per cent) – and least common within organizations that are led by older Canadians over the age of 50 (54 per cent do not use social media).
According to a quarterly survey of Canadian businesses commissioned by UPS Canada and conducted by Leger Marketing, more than half (55 per cent) of business leaders say they use social media for business purposes, such as market research, promotion and client relations. Social networks such as Facebook and Google+ (82 per cent) are the preferred destination for business-related pages, while sites such as Twitter (48 per cent) and YouTube (47 per cent) are also heavily utilized by members of the business community.
“Social media represents a powerful and cost-effective tool that, when used properly, can help any business grow,” says UPS Canada Director of Small Business, Paul Gaspar. “Canadian businesses are operating in an increasingly competitive global market and by using social media, firms can broaden their existing brand equity while building real relationships with current and potential clients.”
Social Media Objectives and Resources
The majority of business leaders (62 per cent) who have chosen to engage with social media for business purposes say their efforts have been met with success.
Very few (11 per cent) are dissatisfied with the results they have achieved, although a third are unsure of the extent of their success. When asked to identify their top three social media objectives, business leaders typically say that they aim to:
- Gauge market interest in a particular product or service that they are offering
- Conduct more general forms of market research
- Strive to reach out to peers and develop knowledge-sharing networks within their respective industries
Despite acknowledging the persuasive power of social media and growth potential it offers, most organizations still dedicate few resources to building an online presence. The majority (54 per cent) spend less than two per cent of their budget on social media while nearly half spend less than five hours a week on their online profile. In the case of smaller business, owners are typically responsible for building a social media profile, while in larger companies employees at the director level tend to take charge of this task.
GelaSkins, a Toronto-based company that manufactures skins and cases for technology devices, has relied heavily on social media to help build its brand since its inception in 2005.
“We quickly became aware of the strong connection that social media creates between our business and our customers,” says Jamie Pichora, co-founder, GelaSkins Inc. “We have maintained an active presence online since day one and continue to love the way social media lets our personality shine and also gives our customers and fans a voice to communicate back.”
Time constraints and a lack of technical know-how are the two most noteworthy obstacles business leaders face when integrating a social media strategy into their business plan. A lack of knowledge of social media is particularly prohibitive for those business leaders over the age of 50 as 36 per cent highlighted this to be the greatest barrier they face.
A quarter of business owners say the greatest obstacle preventing them from implementing a social media strategy is that the medium simply does not fit well with their business or industry. Only one in ten cite a lack of human resources as the most significant barrier to adapting social media to promote and grow their business.
About the survey
From May 14 – 20, 2012, Leger Marketing conducted an online survey among a sample of 255 Canadian business decision makers (CEO, executive level, senior managers). The margin of error for a sample of this size is accurate within 6.14%, 19 times out of 20.