This is a post I should have written long time ago. It is about a very interesting research, Shel Israel, writer of Naked Conversations, has done for SAP. The purpose was "investigate and report on the state of social media in the world".
The research was done in 3 months and Shel used a qualitative approach. He interviewed 48 people, all around the world, from famous bloggers to high school students. He does not pretend the results reflect the exact situation of Social Media, but an approach to most important facts and future trends. Here are some remarkable conclusions from the study:
2. Impact of social media on Business
- Step by step it seems business community start considering social media as an important phenomenon.
"Over the past two years the business community has moved through the phases of denial, dismissal, contempt and hostility regarding social media. Now they are beginning to embrace them".
- Main barriers to business aceptance of social media are 1) middle managers "(...) to them, social media can feel like a time-sucking distraction from their primary responsibility" and he considers that one interesting entry point that work pretty well can be internal wikis, requiring large numbers of employee collaboration and 2) measurement of social media programs. The difficulty comes from the fact that is is complicated even to define what it should be measured. In the case of blog´s influence, number of readers is not so important as the influence of them.
- Most important benefit of social media is not external, but internal.
"The SAP Global Survey also showed the most immediate and universal benefit of social media in the enterprise often happens internally, not externally. Even employees who do not use social media themselves seem to enjoy the fact that management trusts them sufficiently to have the option. There is also evidence that allowing social media is likely to attract the best and brightest of the next generation. One high schooler told me, “I just won’t join a company that will not let me blog".
3. Social media as a Marketing Tool
- Social media is not a marketing revolution, but a conversational revolution.
"Social Media allows news, information and rumors to travel from peer-to-peer-to-peer at amazing speed. If something inaccurate or malicious is said about a company or person, it can be responded to immediately. One person with a smart phone on a street corner, in a London Tube, or a plummeting plane can be heard or watched worldwide in minutes after an occurrence. And anyone who cares can respond.
Consequently companies can not control their "communications channels" as they used to do. They can not longer control relevant conversations regarding its business, products or services.
4. Social media tools
- Even social networks are the most popular media tools, the point is not the tool but what it can be done with the tool.
"Social media tools are like any other tools. They are adapted to accommodate existing needs. Small countries like Ireland, Singapore and Estonia use social media to reach larger markets. Scotland uses it in education to help its children leapfrog ahead of where their parents got. Oppressed countries use social media to enable free speech. Tools get remixed, recalibrated and redistributed in new ways at a very frequent pace".
- Global Neighborhoods: This is a concept used by the author referring the importance of social networks, where small number of members can have lots of influence.
"Global Neighborhoods have become more important than sites. Most of them are small; usually each has less than 500 members and often, fewer than 50. The influence inside them is overwhelmingly peer-to-peer. This poses an enormous challenge to traditional marketers accustomed to mass communications. Instead of having mass markets where millions of people can be reached, the world is restructuring into millions of online micro markets where the only way to influence is to join in and through generosity, gain credibility. The result of the myriad social media tools is a highly decentralized universe where marketing has lost its controls to the market itself".
5. On line generation:
This social media revolution will go ahead because it is being driven by young people, On Line Generation, people who is so comfortable with social media as their parents were with TV.
"The new professional employee is going to know where he wants to work because of social media, is going to use social media to do his job more effectively than did his or her predecessor and doing so will be as normal a process as using the telephone or email is to older employees of today".
If you are interested in geographical differences in social media use, Shel has also an interesting and long post.
And I wonder, is it any consultant company who can be considered ahead on social media business?