Social Media: Hard or Soft Stuff?

by Jay Deragon on 02/10/2009

Often we hear business leaders ask about the value gained from all this social stuff. Many look at social web initiatives as marketing tools while others consider it a means of communicating with various stakeholders. The common proclamation from both businesses and individuals is: “Show me the money?”

How Does Social Media Produce Economic Results?

Social Media is a new dynamic that cuts across all segments of business. Every business has a set of common challenges that impact performance which includes both “soft” and “hard” issues requiring constant monitoring, feedback and management methods to achieve improvements. The challenges include

1. Communication breakdowns
2. Cultural barriers that slow down required changes
3. Increased demands and expectations from markets
4. Retention of employees and customers
5. Lowering cost while increasing revenue
6. Satisfying private and public market expectations
7. Removing political barriers that inhibit progress
8. Leveraging technology to improve performance
9. Adjustments to economic constraints and market changes
10. Balancing short and long term results

The solutions to these top ten challenges have to do with improvement of methods which need to translate into short and long term results. Business results are a measure of dollars gained or lost as the result of related actions or lack of appropriate actions. Many of the solutions to the top ten challenges are “soft” in that it is more about methods than it is about measuring hard dollars and short term results. Methods are driven by people.

Historically anything having to do with people, culture, communications and satisfaction has been labeled as “soft”. While managing financial results, regardless of actions or methods, has been considered “hard”. The fact is counting or manipulating numbers is a lot easier than managing the “soft issues” that create the numbers.

It is difficult for leaders, predominantly male leaders, to both admit and to effectively deal with the “soft issues” because the fundamental elements of the appropriate solutions are essentially socially oriented. Social in that solutions to the top ten challenges require the cooperation, collaboration, consensus and management of “people processes” Most businesses today suffer from social division, internally and externally, between people, purpose and progress.

All this social stuff is more about methods of relating, communicating and facilitating end results. “Megacommunities or multi-stakeholder initiatives become a reality with web 2.0, producing more sustainable solutions because of reach and richness. Not only are the solutions drawing on more information but they also get more buy-in from increased participation. Web 2.0 has empowered people processes: producing social values and fostering the positive dynamic between companies and people.”

Social values and people processes are usually considered one of those “soft issues” by most business leaders rarely tied to producing hard economic results. Social value and people processes are the driving force to achievement of any results.

Socialutions is about adopting a management method that insures a business of worth to its stakeholders and a business that exceeds expected levels of satisfaction by people. The transparency of the web creates the accountability for business to produce real solutions for all stakeholders; spin is no longer sustainable as a solution. To obtain the traditional “measurable hard results a business must insure Socialutions that address the “soft issues” which produces the real results. Get it?

What say you?


StarGazon February 10, 2009 at 8:35 am

Social Media: Hard or Soft Stuff? /The Relationship Economy……/ – Often we hear business leaders ask …

prblogs February 10, 2009 at 8:19 am

RelationshipEcon: Social Media: Hard or Soft Stuff?: Often we hear business leaders ask about t..

JDeragon February 10, 2009 at 8:10 am

Social Media: Hard or Soft Stuff?: Often we hear business leaders ask about the value gained from all this socia..

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