Social Media adoption by Dutch product software vendors

22 May

Social media can be used to listen to and engage with customers and many companies are already using social media to the benefit of their business. Customers are also an important source for feedback and input for Dutch product software vendors. But are Dutch product software vendors present on Social Media and to what extent are they using it? Are there differences between organizations that use Social Media? And how well do we do when compared to United States, which often seem to be step ahead in the adoption of new Technologies.  At the end of 2011, Stef Peeters, a master student of our Business Informatics program, and myself studied the adoption of Social Media by Dutch product software companies. The main findings are presented in this blog post.

Presence on Social Media

We studied twenty Dutch product software companies including small (6), medium (9) and large (5) companies. The following table shows the platforms on which Dutch product software companies are present the most. As you can see it all concerns very well known social media platforms in The Netherlands.

Table 1. Presence on social media platforms

The table shows for example that 5 out of 5 large companies use LinkedIn which represents 100% of the large companies and 1 of the small companies is using Vimeo representing 17% of the small companies. Hyves needs an explanation because it shows 0+5 for example for large companies. This means that we did not find accounts that were hosted by the company itself but nevertheless for all 5 companies Hyves accounts were found that were run by individuals feeling associated with the company.

Did we also look at other social media platforms but on which hardly any company was present? Sure we did and these social media platforms included blogs WordPress and Blogger, microblog Googlebuzz, social networks Yelp, Google+, MySpace and Netlog, and mediasharing sites Slideshare and Flickr. But because the low presence they were not further investigated.

Usage of Social Media

Being present on a social media platform does not necessarily mean that content is posted there and that there is interaction with customers.  Therefore, we studied at any activity during the 3 months preceding our research and the results are presented in the following table.

Table 2. Active use of social media platforms

First of all the N/A should be explained. For LinkedIn it is difficult to tell if there is activity as it is not really a medium for interaction. For Hyves we did not look at activity as the Hyves accounts were not managed by the companies themselves.  Secondly, it can be seen that the actual usage of social media is lower than the presence (in table 1). Except for Twitter, one can say that roughly 50% of the companies being present is also actually using it.

Differences between product software companies

Comparing the three size-based groups, we see that the larger companies are far more present at the four most used social media platforms than the smaller companies. An average of 90% of the large companies is present at these platforms, 72% of the medium companies is present and 54% of the small companies is present. This can have budgetary reasons but it can also be that larger companies see more benefits of using social media. For example, they have a bigger amount of customers and social media can be a good opportunity to reach them. But these and other potential reasons need to be studied in further research.

What was also noticed is that a lot of companies have separate accounts or pages. There could be for instance different accounts for different business units, different products or accounts dedicated to particular events (e.g. sponsored sports event or own event). It was found predominately the larger companies have separate accounts or pages.

Adoption level compared to US

As we have seen in the results of this study, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are seen as the most important social media applications to use (table 1). But, the percentage of active users of YouTube (35%) and Facebook (25%) is lower (table 2). Thus it looks like the relevance of these applications is known but how to use it or for which purpose is not.  Comparing the usage rates of other industries (see Table 1 and Table 2) with the usage rates found during our study, we see some similarities and differences.

For the comparison we use the study of Culnan et al. (2010) in which the 500 largest companies of the U.S. are surveyed. 85% Of the IT companies in this study use Twitter, just like 80% of the companies in our study. Companies from other industries only have an usage rate of 50%. 80% Of the IT companies 80% use Facebook, while only 50% of the companies in our study use Facebook. However, if we only compare the large companies in our study (because the other study presents figures about the largest U.S companies) we see a usage rate of 80% as well. Unfortunately, the study does not provide data on social networks. However, it does provide data on blogs and it is remarkable that 55% of the companies use blogs and we found hardly any blogs in our sample. If we found them they were with larger companies though.

So the adoption rate of Dutch product software companies seems roughly to be comparable to that of IT companies in the US top500. Although it is fair to say that the US study was conducted already a year earlier.

More information or participation?

Please contact the principal researcher: r.w.helms@uu.nl.

Bibliography

Culnan, M. J., McHugh, P. J., & Zubillaga, J. I. (2010). How Large U.S. Companies Can Use Twitter and Other Social Media to Gain Business Value. MIS Quarterly Executive, 9(4), 243–259.

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2 Responses to “Social Media adoption by Dutch product software vendors”

  1. Dewayne August 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Good web page you have in here.

    • rwhelms September 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Thanks, but any suggestions welcome 🙂

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