Social Media is Not a Magic Elixer

originally posted on Concept Hub

In 2005 I launched this agency and was leading the Atlanta Media Bloggers Group. At the time many people were not aware what a blog was, others wondered why they should care about what was written in a blog.

How much can change in just a few years.

If you believe today’s hype about Social Media, all you need to do is join LinkedIN and you will have job offers delivered to you, write a blog and get all kinds of sales leads, join Facebook and your message will go viral, launch a new social network and become the next Internet millionaire.

This past week the TAG Enterprise 2.0 society partnered with the the TAG Workplace Learning society to hear how companies are integrating Social Media into their training and development initiatives to improve the speed of delivery, reduce costs, increase collaboration and improve the overall quality of their learning programs. The panel participants were amazing.

The question of ROI of social media came up and it got me to thinking…

What exacty are we expecting from social media?

It should not be all about social media. First we need to know what our overall goals are, then decide on the tools that will help us effectively reach those goals.

Some goals are much harder to measure than others. In the case of some of the benefits of social media that our panel participants discussed, how do you measure the benefits of raising company morale by giving everyone a voice on the project, or by identifying talent for a project who is coming from another department, or the increased trust from the team in the decision making of the organization?

But the technology of social media only enables collaboration,  knowledge transfer, and team building. It takes leadership to encourage participation, it takes culture to maintain a productive online environment and it takes action to keep the momentum up.

Social media can not provide the company’s goals, social media can not produce good managers and social media can not impart groundbreaking new ideas. What social media can do is provide a stage for those who have good ideas, connect those people with others who can help implement those ideas and provide insight into what is going in the minds and hearts of customers, vendors, and employees.

There have been a number of books and papers written that provide some hard numbers on the ROI of Social Media.

Groundswell provides an analysis of a single high-level executive blog (page 112). Assuming benefits of 7,500 daily page views, 24 press stories driven from blog content, a community of people linking back to the blog , blog content offering enough supportive information to reduce support calls and insights derived from customer participation with the blog, the estimated ROI is $393K in one year!

So, do you think all you need to do is launch a blog to achieve the above scenario? A lot more needs to be in place before the blog is launched. A message strategy that resonates with the community, S.M.A.R.T. goals for what the blog is to achieve and how it will achieve it, a S.W.O.T. analysis of those who are competing for the same mindshare as well as a S.W.O.T analysis on current communication efforts.

Basically you need to know what you are getting into and what you want to get out of your social media strategy.

There have also been several business books written about the value of internal collaboration, flattening organizations and empowering employees to make decisions on the fly. These all are  corporate management goals which can be implemented  by properly leveraging social media.

So, Got Social Media?