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Social Media Study 2020: An overview of teams, tools and challenges.

How do companies set up their social teams, which company goals they implement with them, which social networks do they use to achieve them, how do they measure them and what is the greatest social challenge? This and more was revealed to us by 102 social media managers between December 1st, 2019 and November 30th, 2020 in a non-representative social media study.

Social media managers from a wide variety of companies took part: from large corporations such as Deutsche Bahn, Siemens or Bertelsmann to automobile manufacturers such as BMW, Audi or Daimler to municipal utilities, Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken or savings banks.

This is what social teams look like

The social media study shows: every second German company employs a social media team made up of several employees. Around 42 percent of social media managers still work as a one-man show. In comparison: In the 2014 study, around 80 percent of those surveyed said they were solely concerned with a company's social networks.

Social media teams remain small: In around 70 percent of the cases, the teams consist of a maximum of five employees. Every fourth company employs between five or more social media managers. Only 9.8 percent of those surveyed state that their team has 5-10 employees.

This is how social media managers work

If the social team consists of more than one employee, around a quarter focus on one social channel or split up their work according to the type of campaign.

Every sixth social media manager works with different focuses on all social channels (CRM, market research, marketing ...) or looks after different countries / regions / languages.

Four respondents who work in their company as a one-man show stated that they coordinate everything centrally. They have access to employees in the specialist departments (disciplinary / technical). There is a social media ambassador in each department who can advise them.

Education and training in social media

42 percent of the study participants have completed social media training. Furthermore, 30 percent of social media managers state that their company offers social media training. For comparison: In 2014, more than half of the companies were still training employees on social media issues.

The social missions

Two out of three social media managers drive corporate communications. One in five sees themselves as an enabler who provides employees in other areas with competence in social issues.

Social Media Study: These are the most important goals for companies

marketing is most important for 6 out of 10 social media managers, followed by PR (15%), Employer branding (7%) and Sale (5%).

The most important social platforms

For more than half of German companies (54.9%) it counts Facebook as the most important social channel, followed by Instagram (22,5%). LinkedIn ranks third among the most important social channels for companies with around 11%. Bringing up the rear Twitter (2.9%) and Xing (1.9%) and Youtube with less than one percent. Surprising, since around 75% of the surveyed social media managers use YouTube.

The Top 3 most used social channels are Facebook (97%), Instagram (93%), Youtube (75%). More than half of the companies use LinkedIn (58.8%) and Xing (56.9%). This is followed by Twitter (54.9%) and Pinterest (40.2%). 14 participants also give TikTok as the most important social platform. Furthermore, 26.5% of the companies use the WhatsApp messenger as part of their marketing strategy.

The social media toolkit

Around 85 percent of the companies we surveyed realized that professional support for channels requires a minimum amount of investment in professional tools. This share of social media and community managers has access to at least one social media management and / or monitoring tool. The top 5 offers used are Hootsuite (27%), Fanpagekarma (15%), Tweetdeck (9%), Creator Studio (7%) as well as Later and Google Analytics with 6% each.

Social Media Study: The Top 5, the Biggest Challenges

The job description of the social media manager is establishing itself. Nevertheless, there is a need for action: The constant change in social networks requires agile strategies. The rapid growth of networks such as Instagram and TikTok, new functions and decreasing visibility are forcing companies to rethink existing structures and continuously optimize them.

1. Social by design

Round 60 percent of the participants state that social media has an important role within the company. The work of the social media team is valued by superiors and colleagues. The survey also shows, however, that around 36% of social media managers receive support from their superiors when required, but that social media activities otherwise play a subordinate role in the company. Seven participants indicated that social media is more of a sideline.

This shows that social media managers still have to fight for the integration of social media: Many companies have not yet understood that a constant dialogue with customers is important. It's about the interaction and communication of the brand - also beyond the Internet. Time for social media managers to break down the silos as networked ambassadors, to work together across departmental boundaries and to become social by design. However, in order to exploit the full potential of social media, every single employee must be convinced of the benefits of the networks, starting with the company management.

2. Desire for agile strategies

The biggest challenge for every second respondent: Creating agile corporate structures in order to react faster to current developments in social networks. Accordingly, networks such as Snapchat and TikTok require new formats and communication strategies.

The job of social media managers consists of identifying trends at an early stage and using them profitably for the company. In addition, companies have to learn to constantly adapt to the behavior of target groups - in order to reach potential customers at the right time and in the right place.

3. Build trust

42.2 percent of the surveyed social media managers see it as a challenge to gain the trust of fans and followers. Between the flood of information and postings from well-known influencers, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to remain authentic. Furthermore, teams for branding, image and customer loyalty must work together across departments - especially in times of declining brand loyalty and the increasing importance of (friend) recommendations.

4. Storytelling is king

This is the background to the third and fourth biggest challenge in social media marketing: The creation of content that inspires target groups (33.3%) and is credible (8.8%). Storytelling and content marketing remain important.

In practice: Businesses need to tell stories behind products and brands that are useful and entertaining - with content that fits the respective networks and the target group: Whether Instagram for image-heavy value-added information, TikTok because short video sequences explain more than a thousand words or Pinterest because “product hacks” can be wonderfully shared about them.

5. Reach and visibility

Furthermore, the challenge is on the one hand to recognize the potential of new platforms and to use them profitably. On the other hand, companies have to remain visible. It is no longer enough to rely on organic growth. The creeping saturation of the networks and new algorithms make it difficult to see your own content.

At the same time, the range of content is growing steadily. These prerequisites mean increasing supply / content with constant demand / use. And that has a negative effect on the share of voice for your own content. According to 37 of the surveyed social media managers, companies need more know-how in social advertising as well as new strategies in order to remain visible to fans and followers.

Background of the Social Study

The study was carried out from December 1, 2019 to November 30, 2020, and 102 respondents who were acquired via XING took part.
The questions were conceived and evaluated by Stefan Rippler, author of Berufsziel Social Media. The complete study can be downloaded here.

All data at a glance: the infographic