Companies turn to social networks for buzz, customers | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 10.05.2012
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Companies turn to social networks for buzz, customers

Nearly half of German companies engage the public via social networks, and Facebook leads the way as the network of choice, a new study shows. Over a third of business, however, have decided social media is not for them.

Social media have developed into a crucial part of German companies, that's according to a survey done by umbrella lobby group Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM). Some 47 percent of the 723 companies polled had a social media presence and 15 percent more were in the process of creating one.

"Social networks have developed into the Web's central contact point and because of their large reach they are clearly the most-liked platform for companies," said BITKOM president Dieter Kempf.

Large-small business gap

German companies gave the most attention to Facebook with 32 percent of businesses maintaining at least one page there. Of the companies that engage people via social media, more two-thirds do so via Facebook.

Companies primarily expect social media to increase awareness of their business (82 percent) and to expand their customer base (72 percent), according to the study. Its use is also more common in larger companies than smaller ones. Of business with more than 500 employees, 86 percent have their own social media teams compared to 41 percent of small and medium-sized companies.

A magnifying glass over the Facebook logo

German companies turn to Facebook when it comes to social networking

"The most important reason behind social media use comes from the corporate communications departments," he said on Wednesday. "They want to use the technology behind social media as a new form of communication."

While social networks have established themselves in the publicity work, there is room for improvement when it comes to the personnel department, according to the study. Less than one-fourth of companies said they turned to social networks for recruiting new employees.

"I expect that over the next few years other important corporate functions will come to the fore and address the topic of addressing employees," Kempf said.

Where the conversation happens

The study also looked into the motives behind the some 38 percent of German businesses that said they choose not to maintain a presence in social networks. Concerns about losing control and damage being done to the business topped the list, the study said.

"Some concerns are understandable but forgoing social media also carries risk," Kempf said. "Discussions about brands and products are taking place in the social Web anyway. Anyone who consciously closes themselves off can't have an influence."

Despite the concerns of some companies, use of Facebook and other social networks will increase in German companies, the study showed. Pressure will increase on companies without a presence in social networks, said Kempf, adding that companies would have to examine their adoption of new forms of communication.

Author: Janosch Delcker / sms
Editor: Gregg Benzow

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