The vast majority of UK companies are planning to increase spending on social media in the next year, despite failing to gain real, tangible value from it so far, according to a survey from Econsultancy.
The digital marketing firm, in association with bigmouthmedia surveyed over 1100 companies and agencies, with 86% of respondents planning to spend more money on social media in 2010, and a further 13% anticipating no change in the budget.
Over half cite their biggest barrier to better social media engagement as a lack of resources, with 90% of businesses stating that the channel is taking up more time internally than a year ago.
Despite spending more time and money on social media, only a quarter of companies say that they have gained "real, tangible value" whereas 60% said they had gained "some benefit but nothing concrete".
However, the poll shows the value of taking the medium seriously, with 52% of respondents who are heavily involved saying they have gained real value, compared to only 13% of companies which have "experimented but not done much".
There are mixed views on the most high profile social media tool, Twitter, with 31% of respondents saying there are "tremendous opportunities" available, but half reporting their companies are "open-minded but not fully convinced about the value to the business".
Nearly two thirds are using the micro-blogging site for publicising new content, with 54% using the channel for marketing and 47% brand monitoring. Far fewer are engaging with consumers - only 27% of companies are using Twitter as a customer service tool for reacting to issues and inquiries, while 25% use it as a feedback tool. Only seven per cent feel that Twitter is over-hyped and a fad.
Michelle Goodall, social media and online PR consultant, Econsultancy, says: "The reality is that most businesses understand how to listen, what to measure and where to engage but are struggling to define the value of engagement and reputation in social spaces."