Yesterday Econsultancy published their Social Media and Online PR Report, produced in association with bigmouthmedia. It’s certainly worth a read.

The first thing to point out is that the scope of the research is nothing if not impressive. They received over 1,100 respondents representing 458 client-side organizations and 522 agency / suppliers. One might assume then that it paints a fairly accurate picture of the industry, and of the UK market in particular as Brits made up the majority of respondents.

I’ve been through both the report and presentation and assembled a few thoughts on some of the findings. As we near the end of 2009, it seems that the industry has a way to go:

  • Just under half of companies (46%) are not yet using reputation or buzz monitoring tools to understand what is being said about their brand. Not even free tools? I find this slightly worrying, as there is virtually no barrier to entry and no shortage of free tools online.  For instance, here’s a list I’ve helped compile on the Measurement Camp website.
  • There’s a large gap between personal and organisational attitudes towards social media. Whereas 61% of respondents personally see a tremendous opportunity for social media, less than a third (31%) say that their organisations as a whole have this same positive outlook. In fact 44% say their organisations are not fully convinced of the value (but are open minded), and another 19% consider social media a major risk.
  • The three most common reasons for not investing in social media up to now have been lack of knowledge and understanding (59%), company culture (41%) and lack of senior buy-in (41%).  It would seem that change needs to start from the top, and agencies of all different stripes have a role to play in educating their clients.

So there are some definite challenges ahead, as social media/digital engagement still appears to be a long way off being something that businesses take seriously. However, it’s not all doom and gloom:

  • The majority of companies (86%) expect investment in social media to increase in 2010.

Surely that’s good news?

Get the report here.