By Claire West

A benchmark study released today by Wildfire reveals that while 90% of technology companies have a presence on two or more social networks, a significant majority are just not being social and are failing to use these channels to engage in a two-way dialogue with customers and followers.

The results of the benchmark study, which analysed the social media activity of the 2009 Deloitte Fast Tech 50, are revealed in a whitepaper, Putting the ‘social’ back into social media’. The whitepaper is available to download here.

Twitter was the most popular network used (74%), followed by Linkedin (72%) and then Facebook (20%). Less than half (48%) had a blog.

But the study confirmed many technology brands view social media as an opportunity to push out marketing messages and corporate content; 60% of companies with a Facebook page used it purely as a distribution channel; 57% of companies with a Twitter account used it solely for one-way marketing activity; and only 25% of blogs received comments on a regular basis.

In addition, a large proportion of technology companies in the study are ignoring feedback from their audiences. While 66% of Facebook pages received comments from users, 75% of these companies failed to reply to the comments: only 3% of the tweets in the study were retweets and just 12% were replies. Shockingly, 43% of brands with a Twitter account had never replied to a tweet. A tiny 9% of companies replied to comments on their blog.

Companies also failed to integrate social media with their online presence: only 34% of companies assessed link to their social network accounts from their website homepage, with only 18% linking to a Twitter account and 2% linking to Facebook. Only 22% featured their blog on their homepage and on social networks themselves, the integration wasn’t any better, with only 51% of companies on Twitter even including links to their website or blog in their tweets.

Debby Penton, Managing Director at Wildfire said: “Social media marketing is not some black art requiring vast experience or knowledge. After all, the vast majority of us use social networks on a regular basis to chat with friends or network with colleagues. It is therefore surprising to find that so many technology companies are trying to force old marketing techniques onto the way they use social media. They are using it to simply ‘push’ marketing or corporate messages.

“To be truly effective, social media requires a different mindset entirely to traditional ‘push marketing’ and our research demonstrates that brands haven’t factored this into their thinking when using social media. With correct foresight and planning, social media can be a wonderfully effective and cost efficient way of developing relationships with end users and achieving bottom line returns.”

Wildfire recommends that technology companies step back and reassess how they are using social media and work out how best to reach their target audience through these channels.

Technology companies were advised to consider who represented their target visitors, and what the best social networks were to engage with the intended audience.

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