I had an interesting chat with Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner the other day on what constitutes a “failure” in Social Media. Mike makes a stack of really good information available through the site and is a good guy to have an exchange of view with.
I said to Mike that, in my view, the term “failure” is problematic. If we were to look at it from, say, an Erik Qualman point of view we might reasonably ask “What’s the success or failure of a phone?” For me the adoption of Social Media, in a business context, is not a binary failure/success issue. This is because the approach to becoming a social business is actually a change of mode and mindset therefore it is more a matter of degree. So in that context an organisation can either do it well or do it badly or somewhere in between.
Doing it badly does not necessarily constitute failure. The concept of success or failure is often associated, in my experience, with a single application of Social Media for, say, marketing and not as a more holistic and changed mode of engagement and operation across a business. Taking the somewhat constrained view of a single application for adopting Social Media is looking at Social Media as a one-legged stool whereas, I believe, it is much more of a multi-legged stool. If we take the misguided “one-legged” view of the application of Social Media then if that application doesn’t deliver against our targets it can feel like failure.
As it happens Mike and I agree but Mike made the important point that lots of organisations haven’t even a single leg to their stool as they haven’t recognised or embraced the adoption of Social Media and that this is most certainly a failure, and he is, of course, spot on.
The other matter it raised was the issue of setting targets and monitoring progress. Again we agreed that many organisations had insufficient monitoring mechanisms to establish their progress anyway as this is a common error. It is important to set out some measures that you are to apply as you set out on the journey to becoming a social business. However the choice of yardstick and scale is a complex one if we are judging the progress holistically and should include both qualitative and quantitative measure. But without these measures it makes it hard to monitor progress and review and adjust to improve along the way. Note I said improve not succeed or fail!
So a quick chat around some commonly used terminology acted as a reminder of a few key points:
- Social Media has profound implication and opportunity for how you do business, all of your business,
- You need to get to grips with this and soon,
- You should set out some indicators to help guide your progress to a social business.
So, do it now and do it well.