By Daniel Hunter

Digital and social media looks set to take centre stage in 2016, with nearly two thirds of business decision makers saying they will increase the use of digital across the company, according to a study conducted for YouGov.

Sixty-five percent of decision makers said they will increase use of digital media with employees, customers, investors and influencers over the next two years. The same people also said they will increase their use of social media to the same audiences.

But the research also raised concerns over how well digital and social media will be used, with 30% saying they don't use any main digital or social media channels.

The study also found that businesses were struggling with the changing preferences of today’s digitally savvy consumers. Customers were slightly more likely to hear from the businesses surveyed via one of these digital and social channels, with 24% of those with responsibility for contacting customers selecting “none of these”, while 19% of respondents with responsibility for contacting influencers said the same.

This highlights the difficulties facing businesses when attempting to integrate digital and social channels with more traditional approaches.

Only 33% of businesses believed they were equipped to deal with greater levels of digital communication. Anxiety was most keenly felt about social media, with 16% claiming they were poorly prepared - compared to 11% for digital. Around half in each category, 54% for digital and 50% for social, said their business was well prepared.

One of the key recommendations discussed within the report is to place the stakeholder at the centre of everything, regardless of the channel which they choose to utilise, as well as uncovering the raison d'etre of the businesses, which helps to focus communications strategy across digital and social platforms.

Julian Gorham, Head of Brand at Gather, the company that conducted the survey on behalf of YouGov, said: “The world has changed. We’re living in an era of vast digital and media confusion, where brands are increasingly built by the conversations people are having online. We’ve been working with big and small corporates and wanted to have a better understanding of how these organisations feel about their own digital and social media, as well as their various stakeholders’ attitudes towards it.

“This report highlights a void in corporate digital and social media communications that needs addressing. Both digital and social media hold great potential to connect previously disconnected audiences, through the creation of single organising ideas that resonate with each group in a way that’s right for them. Of course, this doesn’t negate the need for strong, clear writing, which can often make a huge different to business communications. Our findings show corporates are clearly waking up to the fact that there are huge gains to be made by adding clarity to their communications.”

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