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57% of CEOs Become Social-Media Users in 5 Years

Update Date: May 25, 2012 01:54 PM EDT

Social networking sites have changed their roles and significance among people ever since they have been launched. Initially just a way to keep in touch with pals, they have now grown to public discussion forums, a common platform for the world to come together and share information and news.

Among other purposes that networking sites serve, business organizations are also slowly realizing its role in reaching customers. A recent IBM Global CEO study reveals that CEO's are finally realizing and reaping benefits of the popularity of social media by engaging business and customers.

The hierarchy for methods utilized in reaching the audiences still gives the last preference to social media.  The first method adopted as of now is face-to-face interactions, followed by websites, channel partners, call centers, traditional media, advisory groups, and finally, social media, reports Mashable.com.

However, the scenario is changing really fast with companies realizing the popularity and usefulness of social media in reaching customers. The ranking of social media as a method to reach audiences is expected to jump to the number two spot within three to five years, leaving behind traditional to touch the bottom of the list, says IBM's study report.

For the study, 1,709 CEOs were interviewed from 64 countries and 18 industries. Apparently only 16% of them are using social media at present, but the figure is expected to rise to 57% in next 5 years, the report says.

The nature of advertizing is getting more and more personal with time and hence making personal communication with customers and availing meaningful insights from them is the top priority for the CEOs who consider social media as an important tool of reaching consumers.

"We use social media less as a marketing or distribution channel and more as a knowledge platform to obtain information about customers," said an insurance interviewee CEO from Switzerland.

It seems, the reason behind such a less number of organizations preferring social media is because although more than half of the business owners (64%) believe that social media as a useful tactic for marketing but they are still hesitatant to trust it completely and jump into it full-force, Mashable report said.

However, the picture is changing and more CEOs are slowly realizing the potential of social media to help them reach the world.

"One of the most compelling findings [of the survey] is how in tune CEOs are about the implications and impact of social media," stated Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services. "Rather than repeating the familiar lament about de-personalizing human relationships, this view leans heavily in favor of deepening them, and using dynamic social networks to harness collective intelligence to unlock new models of collaboration."

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