It was a conversation heard around the world. On the top floor of Waterstones, a bookstore in London, UK, a Texan visiting on vacation was innocently thumbing through the pages of what was evidently a very engrossing book, unaware that the store was ready to close. By the time David Wallis made his way downstairs, the staff had locked up the place, and his literary escape had become rooted in reality; he needed to find a way out.

Two hours later, unable to free himself, he turned to the internet and tweeted:

“Hi @Waterstones I’ve been locked inside of your Trafalgar Square bookstore for 2 hours now. Please let me out.” via @DWill_

Thousands of retweets, a trending hashtag, and shares from media outlets like CNN, NBC, and the ABC news later, David Willis was rescued by a Waterstones employee who happened to be browsing Twitter.

It’s a sobering example of the times social media finds itself in. A post that goes viral could be a valuable opportunity to engage with your audience. Or, that same post could cause a massive, time sensitive crisis that has the ability to besmirch your brand’s hard-won reputation. Both scenarios have serious implications for marketing teams across the world. Are you ready to start listening?

ICUC Social wanted to know, what did social media teach companies in 2016, and what gave those companies that most trouble? So, we decided to survey social media decision makers throughout North America to find out.

The following survey unearths some of the most important social media insights you can use to guide your strategy in 2017.

Here’s What Social Media Taught Us in 2016.

Survey Methodology

Who: Nearly 100 companies were surveyed to get a clear sense of the perceptions most prominently held about social media management.

What: The survey was designed to identify shared pains experienced by marketing teams across industries, and discover what processes already exist to address the current needs of brands.

Why: The survey aimed to illuminate the true value and ROI of social media management, and describe what an ideal social media solution looks like for firms seeking to maintain a high level of authentic engagement.


To get the truest understanding of the social media issues and pains faced by marketing professionals across industries, those surveyed are social media savvy. That means that four of five firms have a dedicated social media team on staff (1-10 employees), and four of five also currently use some form of social media monitoring tool.

The majority of the respondents are leaders in their company. 40% are managers, 30% are directors, and 20% are executives. These are individuals with a keen understanding of marketing, social media, and the importance of ROI.

The companies vary in size, with the majority having fewer than 500 employees. It’s worth noting though, that 12% of the firms surveyed have over 1000 employees.

The firms invest in social media, with just over half allocating a budget of $50K to social media, and 7% allocating over $1M.

Survey Findings

Survey Finding #1: Pain Points
When asked, “Which tools do you use to monitor/listen to social media?” The top two answers were:

  • People (i.e., conducted by staff)
  • Nothing

When having no solution trumps having one of the many existing social monitoring technologies available, it means that companies are struggling to systemize social media within their firms. These struggles mean that this survey will hear a large variety of aches, pains, and reasons why social monitoring and social media are not being institutionalized.

Other key findings…

  • Nearly all surveyed expressed the need for better coverage during holidays and staff vacation time.
  • Generally, brands do not feel equipped to provide 24/7 social media vigilance.
  • 58% of social media teams want to have a response time of under one hour, but 96% of those teams only engage during business hours. That’s a big difference in what firms want, versus what they’re delivering.
  • Firms struggle with getting leadership to ‘understand the value and ROI of engaging our audience on social media.”

Without the right social media monitoring tools, brands are left to worry about these top four points, as surveyed:

As a brand, I’m worried:

  • my team might miss something
  • my social media tools might miss something
  • I’m not prepared for a social media crisis
  • I don’t have an early warning system for social media problems

That’s a lot of worry. A lot of worry that could be solved with the correct tools.

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