Spain's leading companies are not doing enough to interact via social media
A study reveals how companies post content adapted to each digital platform, but fail to make the most of the opportunities to interact

Spain's leading companies have low levels of interaction with their followers on social media. The biggest companies on Spain's stock exchange still use these platforms essentially as broadcast tools. They post a range of contents, but fail to make the most of the chances for two-way communication. These are the main results coming from a UOC study led by the researcher Cristina Aced.

 
Her doctoral thesis studied and compared the extent to which IBEX 35 companies and a selection of 20 companies from the Fortune 500 managed to connect with their external audiences (generally speaking, their customers) via blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Overall, a total of 2,243 tweets, 8,340 Facebook posts and 177 blog posts were analysed.
 
The thesis, titled "How Companies Are Seizing the Dialogic Opportunities Provided by Social Media to Communicate with their External Audiences", shows how one-way communication on social media can be seen at both Spanish and US companies. "The number of companies with high levels of dialogue, however, is higher in Spain (27%) than in the US (20%)," said Aced, who is also a course instructor with the UOC's Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences.
 
The Spanish companies stood out for posting audiovisual and multimedia content (photos and videos) on both Facebook and blogs, and for achieving a higher level of interaction and offering more customer services via Twitter. In turn, the US companies stood out for posting a wider range of content on social media (text, videos, photos, infographics, etc).
 
In both cases Facebook and Twitter were the social media used most, with blogs a distant third. Spanish companies were slightly more likely to use Twitter (63%) than Facebook (60%). It was the opposite case in the US where they preferred Facebook (70%) to Twitter (63%).
 
Over 80% of the content companies posted on social media was differentiated (86% in Spain and 93% in the US). In other words, in both cases most of the content posted was adapted to the social media and duplicate content was avoided. Only 10% of Spanish firms posted exactly the same information on all their social media, and in the US less than 1% did.
 
The study also showed how interaction depended on the subject covered and the format used to share the information. "Users particularly liked posts with photos, videos and links," said Aced. She added that including external links was rated positively because it added value. If audiences see the content as useful (eg, advice or recipes), then there is a higher level of interaction.
 
There is still little use of videos and infographics, but it is increasing. None of the companies studied used podcasts. "Very few companies make the most of the possibilities for multimedia and audiovisual content on the internet," she said.
 
In most cases both the Spanish and US companies had personalized social media profiles. However, Twitter was more personalized when it came to the text and images used. Twitter was also updated more often: eight out of ten Spanish companies posted tweets every day and nearly 95% had updated their Facebook page in the past week.
 
Afternoons between 1 pm and 8 pm was the period preferred by all the companies to post and update content on both Facebook and Twitter. However, Aced warned that squeezing most posts into the same period time can affect the reach they might have among their audiences.
 
The research, supervised by UOC professor Ferran Lalueza, also noted that companies do not identify the people updating their social media accounts – something that is usually the case when it comes to blogs. Four out of every ten blogs identified the author, whereas none of the posts on Facebook or Twitter did. "Identifying the author is a way for companies to be transparent and honest, and to strengthen links with their audience," Aced said