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Social media is more than a number of "likes"

Cliff Saran

The number of “likes” on Facebook, is not a measure of success according to Anthony Bradley, a group vice president at Gartner, and co-author of The Social Organisation.

Bradley says he has seen many errors in the way companies deal with social media. During Gartner’s ITxpo, he said, “It is very difficult for companies to understand how to do social media. How do you build a competency in mass collaboration?”

In Bradley’s experience the vast majority of marketing in social media is marketing communications, using new channels. People can say whether they “like it” but what does that really mean? You have their attention, but you have not formed a community?”

He recommended that businesses should focus on engagement. “Look at how you turn customers into an extension of your sales force, for next generation business practices.”

Bradley warned of a very prevalent worst practice: when companies provide some social media activity and pray something good comes of it. “You are providing access to a technology and hoping a community forms. We found this has a 90% failure rate. Most of the time, people don't interact.”

Companies with the most impact in social media are not the implementations in marketing communications, he explained. “You need to take a strategic view across the whole organisation.”

According to Bradley, mass collaboration is the next big evolution following mass production.  He said mass collaboration allows businesses to amplify the capabilities of the organisation, such as in Proctor & Gamble. The consumer packaged goods giant realised that the smartest people were not necessarily in the company, so it is using crowd-sourcing in product development.

For CIOs, Bradley warned that in companies where social media was failing, it was the CIO, who was holding the business back.


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