Being a full-fledged member of Generation Y, communicating via social media is as natural as talking via the telephone was to previous generations. While it has many obvious advantages in a recreational sense, the use of social media by the corporate world has had mixed success.
Recent research by Ragan.com revealed that the majority of organizations are trying to bolt social media onto their existing hierarchy. Just 35% of respondents had a dedicated social media employee. What’s more, of those 35%, 42% were in a team of one.
The survey also revealed an overwhelming bias towards using social media for marketing purposes. Utilization of social tools for customer service, internal communications, collaboration was very rare indeed.
This uncertainty was reflected in the metrics used to measure success. 86% of respondents used vanity metrics such as followers and likes to determine success, with another 74% using hits.
This suggests that the commercial world is still struggling to come to terms with the new social environment. A study by Deloitte last year underlined the difficulties many were having determining an ROI for their social, while also offering a roadmap for pinning ROI directly with the overall goals of the business. Only by doing this will social business emerge from the shadows and become a provable phenomenon that will change how our organizations behave.
Senior managers are grounded in the real world, and rightly focus their attention on things that matter, both to them as a business and to the customers that sustain them. They deserve more than vanity metrics that contribute nothing to understanding how social impacts their business.
As a digital native I’m certain that this is an unavoidable shift, and that the social business mantra will eventually just become business, and that all companies will have to become social or die. To reach that point, however, we need to get smarter with our ROI and proving to those who lead our corporations that this is a wave worth catching.