Businesses Still Back Social Nets

Despite tight budgets, companies are continuing to support the social networking activities they've recently established. In a Deloitte LLP survey of 400 companies, 94% of the respondents said that they plan to maintain or increase their investments in social media tools and online communities, while only 6% said they plan to decrease such investments.

Businesses use metrics such as the number of active users and how many people post or comment to gauge the success of their social networking efforts. But Deloitte said they should consider other measures, too, such as increases in search engine rankings and referral links on other Web sites.

The study found that as social media efforts mature, companies are turning their attention to "lurkers" -- people who observe a community but don't participate. Twenty percent of the respondents said that their companies have set up formal "ambassador" programs, which give lurkers special treatment to encourage them to become more active.

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