Social Media inroads for Best Practices

Technology-based social networking tools—Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, online chat, etc.—are making steady inroads on business best practices. To get a better handle on exactly how, MIT Sloan Management Review and the consulting firm Deloitte conducted a survey of more than 3,500 managers in small, midsize and large businesses in more than 20 industries across 100 countries. It’s one of the largest surveys of its kind and the findings provide an interesting snapshot of where social networking is in 2012. (Read the full report of the 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project at link here

Some of the findings include:

  • Marketing,sales and customer service are the biggest driving forces behind the use of social networking tools.
  • Social networking in the workplace is not easy to pull off successfully. The study cites a Gartner analysis that found a 70% failure rate in social networking initiatives.
  • The largest businesses and the smallest businesses are leading the way.  The largest businesses have the resources to experiment while the smallest businesses have the most to gain from a breakout success.
  • The two biggest areas where social networking tools can help deliver value are managing customer relationships and innovating for competitive differentiation:
  1. Managing customer relationships: Companies are reporting success in monitoring online communities, creating and supporting new virtual communities, developing new communications channels and fostering new opportunities for customer interaction, such as contests and other online events. A typically cited example are fan sites that make it possible to engage and interact with “superfans, ” leading to activities that help create buzz—true word-of-mouth-viral marketing at its best.
  2. Innovating for competitive differentiation:  Using social networking tools to source new ideas and provide consumers with ways to get involved in product development, e.g., online environments to interact with products, vote on new innovations, make suggestions, etc.
  • Many organizations are seeing a major operational impact from improved knowledge flow. The report cites an example from Nationwide Insurance in which a customer on vacation experienced an RV breakdown and was unsure if his Nationwide policy covered the situation. The call center agent was also unsure, but posted the issue on the company’s internal collaboration platform and soon had feedback from product, claims and underwriting groups. A problem that might have taken at least a day to resolve was handled in less than 30 minutes.

Social media platforms do not by themselves instill a culture of collaboration.  The report notes that companies that appear to be benefiting the most already had cultures that valued information sharing.Leadership is also critical, as are tools that are easy to use; and deployed to solve a real problem.

The report is also frank in noting that hard evidence of ROI is lacking. Given that,should businesses wait longer for more evidence of business value? The report counsels no and suggests that companies following a wait-and-see approach are“overestimating the amount of time and effort it takes to start putting this trend to work for your organization today.”

Read the full reportof the 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project at link here

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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