Digital Marketing 2009

The April 2009 PM forum ‘Snapshot’ survey on Web 2.0 and social media shows huge changes in attitudes at professional firms since November 2007, especially at smaller firms, in favour of accessing LinkedIn, having an official presence on social networks, and using Web 2.0 techniques in a firm’s intranet.

We are living through a state of transition, as shown by these contrasting perspectives on the impact on individual firms:

  • Social media and Web 2.0 have revolutionised the way our firm operates. We keep bang up to date with industry trends via Twitter and by following and contributing to blogs. We can checkout prospective employees via Facebook.
  • Pioneers get shot, settlers make money so still learning - there are many lessons still to be learned.
  • We, the Marketing Team, have a great deal of knowledge re. Web 2.0 and Social Media and would like to implement more across out firm. Unfortunately, many of these sites/applications are banned for security reason so it has become a case of us having to educate our fellow employees before we can proceed.
  • None! Half of the partners don't know how to use the Internet properly and actively avoid it!
  • I feel embarrassed that I don't know more about the subject. Help!!!

What does Web 2.0 mean to PM Forum members in 2009? 50% (40% in 2007) see it as user-controlled content; 33% (18%) as a revolution and only 2% (16%) as gobbeldygook. Similar views were expressed on the term ‘social media’.

Attitudes towards accessing Facebook and LinkedIn in office hours have undergone a massive change since 2007. LinkedIn is now seen as beneficial by 64%, harmless by 22%, and a problem by only 6%; with 7% having no opinion. Facebook, by contrast is seen as beneficial by 24%, harmless by 22%, and a problem by 38%; with 16% having no opinion. 18 months ago, no-one saw these sites as beneficial, 34% saw them as harmless, 33% saw them as a problem; and 33% had no opinion. Here’s a typical comment from 2009: “Facebook offers employees access to each other, which allows for networking and can enhance career choices. However, it is not usually leveraged this effectively. LinkedIn offers my firm significant opportunity to connect with clients, prospects, and industry analysts.” Curiously, 36% of firms still have no policy over disclosing organisational information on these networks with only 21% banning the practice.

Significant differences also emerge between Facebook and LinkedIn when it comes to formal policies over employees accessing professional and social networking sites. Facebook is five times more likely to be banned than LinkedIn (26% for Facebook v 5% for LinkedIn), but 30% (33% in 2007) of firms still have no formal policy, and 15% of respondents are unsure if there is such a policy at their firm. ‘Twittering’ in office hours is banned by 19% but 44% have no policy with 26% unsure. Attitudes have clearly hardened as this quote from 2009 reveals: “The distinction between the value of social and professional networking comes down to the difference between work and pleasure.”

64% (20% in 2007) are now considering an official presence on LinkedIn or Facebook with their sites consisting of simple items – links to the main site; photos and bios of people; and networking information. This proportion rises to 94% for small firms. Target audiences are clients, current employees and partners, with graduates a less important audience than in 2007. 15% (17%) are planning closed sites; 42% (46%) are unsure. 44% report that they have recently updated their firm’s profile on LinkedIn, rising to 71% in small firms of up to 250 headcount. Such updating was not possible in 2007. Marketing departments or dedicated teams are mostly responsible for administering the site.

60% (40% in 2007) of respondents are actively exploring the possibility of upgrading their firm’s intranet and internet systems for Web 2.0 techniques – rising to 68% for large firms. Areas of focus in 2009 remain the simple tools - RSS, video streaming, trusted communities and blogging. While this was seen an act of faith in 2007, members are now reporting ‘significant’ or ‘very significant’ commercial success with clients (28% of members), press coverage (27%), business partnerships (26%) and new recruits (21%).

98 members responded (186 in November 2007) with a very similar profile to the 2007 survey. 48% (50%) work for firms of between 251 and 10,000 employees; 37% (44%) work for firms with UK as the primary market with 23% (25%) for the North American market; 42% (55%) are in the legal sector with 26% (15%) in accountancy; 81% (70%) work in marketing; 11% (17%) are from general management; 41% (37%) are managers; 25% (25%) are directors and 6% (13%) are managing partners.

Download the full results summary