Companies looking to increase their digital strategies need to garner a far higher level of understanding of social media. This is the conclusion of research which has recently been compiled by technology and consulting giant IBM.

The survey, which conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 1,700 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) from February to June 2011, showed that the majority are simply overwhelmed by the volume of information available.

The study found that just 26 per cent of CMOs regularly track blogs and only 40 per cent track any communications through online channels. However, 82 per cent of all who took part in the survey, said that they intend to increase their use of social media within three to five years.

The potential value that such platforms could provide to companies could not be clearer. At the present time, Facebook has over 800m active users, whilst Twitter sees its users post in the region of 200m tweets each day. Both figures increase on a daily basis.

Many of the most well recognised global brands, such as Burger King, Dell, Nike and IBM themselves, have harnessed this potential well. However, many other larger companies do not perform so strongly, so small businesses wanting to make a big impression could do well by concentrating their efforts.

It is not going to be easy, requiring expertise at a high level as with any other function of a business. With increased customer knowledge and a need for advertising and marketing to be relevant, informative and entertaining, professional online marketers could soon be in high demand.