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Adi is a social business blogger and community manager that writes for sites such as Social Business News and Social Media Today. Away from the computer he enjoys cycling, particularly in the Alpes. Adi is a DZone Zone Leader and has posted 1239 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

What’s the cost of not getting involved in social media?

02.09.2013
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Yesterday I wrote about a new report by Altimeter Group on the risks involved in social media and how you can mitigate against them.  One risk they didn’t cover in the report however was the risk of not getting involved in social media at all.

So I did a bit of digging and found some research by McKinsey into the importance of social media and the risk involved if you don’t utilise the opportunities that exist.  They suggest that the opportunity cost of not using social media is around $1.3 trillion.

Now McKinsey analysed over 4,000 companies to see how they used social technologies.  They found that between them they were using social media to unlock anywhere from $900 to $1.3 trillion in value.  Now how does this break down?

Well 2/3 of that value comes from better internal communications and collaboration within and across their business.  So in other words they’re using social media to work better internally.  It’s a classic social business case (and nothing to do with worrying about followers or likes!).

I think this is worth repeating, because so often social media is touted as being a distraction at work.  This McKinsey report however is saying that using social media tools actually makes you more productive.  We’re not talking about playing FarmVille here, we’re talking about providing employees with the tools to communicate and collaborate better with one another.

Social technologies have the potential to free up expertise trapped in departmental silos. High-skill workers can now be tapped company-wide. Managers can find out “which employees have the deepest knowledge in certain subjects, or who last contributed to a project and how to get in touch with them quickly”.

Now if you’re not making use of this yet, don’t fret because you’re not alone.  McKinsey suggest that just 5% of current content and communications use is taking place via social technologies, so you’re not alone in this.  If you stand on the sidelines riddled with fear about what might happen though you soon will be.

I wrote last year about the six stages of social media adoption at any enterprise.  If you become beholden to the risks and potential downsides of social media you’ll never get past the ‘fearful stage’.  Hopefully this data by McKinsey will help give you the prod needed to fully make the leap and take social to your heart.  Here are those six stages by the way.

Phases of social media

  • Folly – when people think social media is a waste of time
  • Fearful – when people are scared of giving people a voice
  • Flippant – neither fear nor fervour.  Build and pray approach.
  • Formulating – when value is seen and strategies attempted
  • Forging – where people integrate social media into their daily lives and it breaks out of a community manager/marketing dept responsibility
  • Fusing – the most advanced attitude, when social media philosophies are at the heart of everything we do.