So far, little analysis is available regarding the use businesses are making of social networking and whether hard business can be generated through this channel. To understand whether businesses globally believe that social networking is ready to take its place among an array of marketing tools, the survey asked business leaders whether they had made any customer wins using social networking, and if they believed the channel was effective enough to be awarded its own portion of marketing budget.
Globally, social networks are still used for their original range of functions.The most popular use of social networks is staying in touch with business contacts, with 58 per cent of respondents globally declaring they use networks in this way.
Joining special interest groups is also popular (54%). Although a number of sceptics (34%) believe social networking will never become a significant method to connect with customers and prospects, 51% of firms organise, connect to or manage customer groups via social networks. 54% of firms use it to find out useful business information.
Surprisingly, however, only 22% of respondents had found new employment through social networking, this inspite of the specific job search functions of networks such as LinkedIn.In India specifically, almost a third (32%) of businesses have set aside a proportion of marketing budget specifically devoted to social networking activities. Thirteen per cent more respondents in India used social networking to keep in touch with contacts and a 71% declared that the main usefulness of social networks was the possibility to manage and connect to customer groups.
Twenty per cent more respondents than the global average of 44% declared that they were impressed by audio/visual animations on a company profile. Regus’ country head, Madhusudan Thakur, said, “Our survey has revealed that social networking has finally become a mainstream business tool.”Although there is a hardcore of sceptics globally, who do not believe that social networks will become a significant method of reaching customers and prospects, a significant proportion of firms are devoting real marketing budgets through the medium to acquire new customers and keep existing ones.”
With 600-million wireless connections and 9-million broadband subscribers and Gupshup, the most popular mobile social networking application numbering over 25-million members closely followed by Orkut and Facebook, it is not surprising to find Indian firms ahead of the game.