So why are businesses using social media?

According to the State of Social Media for Business, the top goals for companies are branding and community. Rounding out the top five are increasing Web site traffic (hmm, I hope that’s not really an end in itself), identifying and addressing consumer needs, and business development.

The report identifies eight trends in business use of social media–from who is using it to how effective companies think their efforts have been.

Social Media Outposts

Twitter, Facebook | Businesses Using Key Social Media Platforms | Independent Thinking | Steigman Communications, llc

The report also looks at where companies are focusing their attention. Not surprisingly, Facebook and Twitter lead the list. But are their customers, clients, and prospects hanging out there? And do most businesses even know the answer?

The evidence suggests they don’t.

Clued In or Clueless?

Two things really stood out for me:

  • only 14.7 percent of companies are measuring their social media efforts; and (perhaps not coincidentally)
  • only 14.2 percent of companies say their strategies are very effective.

What makes the statistics particularly interesting is that survey respondents self-selected. As a result, the numbers reflect companies that are more knowledgeable about and more inclined to use  social media. That so few of these have adopted measurable strategies means there’s still a long way to go to make businesses truly social.