NEW YORK: Brand owners are taking a cautious approach to increasing the size of their social media teams and budgets, according to new research.

Ragan Communications, the publisher, and NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions, the consultancy, polled 2,714 executives from communications, marketing and PR to discuss their strategies in this area.

Some 65% of featured firms did not have staff that solely focused on social channels, versus 27% that did. A further 5% had an internal team and used outside partners, while 3% outsourced all activity.

Among the panel that had dedicated employees for this channel, a 42% share boasted just one person responsible for their output, alongside 40% with two or three and 18% possessing at least four.

When detailing their hiring plans, a 68% majority of participants did not expand social departments in 2012 and 78% stated similar expectations for 2013, the analysis revealed.

An extra 69% of operators maintained budgets this year and 62% intended to pursue the same strategy next year. These figures stood at 28% and 36% for those players increasing outlay levels. Only 14% of players spent more than $100k this year.

"Social media are revolutionising communications. But if your organisation isn't committing additional resources, don't feel left out. You're not alone," the study said.

Upon rating their social output, another 64% of firms picked "intermediate" and believed they had more to learn. This compared with 13% arguing they were "advanced" and 23% of "beginners".

Equally, a 42% plurality were "somewhat satisfied" with the progress made in terms of measurement, and 26% were "satisfied". Fully 27% were "not satisfied at all" and 5% proved "very satisfied".

Insufficient time was mentioned by 65% of contributors as a key "roadblock" to improving performance here, with a lack of money on 63% and inadequate resources on 41%.

Keeping up with the latest tools and platforms was also seen as "overwhelming" by 18% of operators, whereas 52% attained this goal but "not by much" and 30% "easily" adapted to the changing climate.

Marketing teams ran social media at 29% of firms, with PR and corporate communications both on 17%. Almost 74% of companies had achieved effective working patterns between teams active in this space and 81% said senior management were supportive.

Data sourced from Ragan Communications; additional content by Warc staff