Taking Social Media From Talk To Action

The Harvard Business Review is out with a report called"The New Conversation: Taking Social Media From Talk To Action" that is worth a read talking about the growth of social media usage among companies:

The exponential growth of social media, from blogs, Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and YouTube, offers organizations the chance to join a conversation with millions of customers around the globe every day.
This promise is why nearly two-thirds of the 2,100 companies who participated in a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services said they are either currently using social media channels or have social media plans in the works. But many still say social media is an experiment, as they try to understand how to best use the different channels, gauge their effectiveness, and integrate social media into their strategy.
But when they say experimenting, it really sounds like feeling around blindly hoping to find something according to some of the results:
  • Three-quarters (75%) of the companies in the survey said they did not  know where their most valuable customers were talking about them.
  • Nearly one-third (31%) do not measure effectiveness of social media.
  • Less than one-quarter (23%) are using social media analytic tools.
  • A fraction (7%) of participating companies are able to integrate social media into their marketing activities.
These should all be huge red flags in any experiment as they represent numerous missed opportunities to capitalize on their efforts in the future.  Follow me below the fold for more.Business themselves admit their efforts are still flawed:
“It’s hard to define value when we are still trying to measure it. We will get it eventually, but right now we are stabbing in the dark for measurement criteria.”
The difficulty in measuring is the frequent desire for instant results. Traditional marketing efforts have been built over time, but adopting new media doesn't lead to instant gains. It's the self described "effective users" that are beginning to get it:
Within the survey, a small group of companies (12%) who identified themselves as “effective users” of social media shared some common practices. (Figure 8) They have moved beyond seeing social media as a “shiny object” or fad, and have started to see it as another part of their overall marketing strategy. While experimenting with their own social media offerings, they were more likely to be measuring their efforts as well as the social conversations about them.
Like anything with business, you have to make the investment before you can realize a payoff. The only way to stop stabbing in the dark is the turn on the lights and bring in a guide. You wouldn't have someone that fixes the plumbing build the whole house, you would want them to focus on the plumbing because it's what they know. Until businesses come to this realization, they will continue to have difficulty trying to define success. The Business report review contains a good deal more information and like I said, is worth a read.