There has been and continues to be lots of conversations about the ROI from use of social media. Leaders constantly ask “what is it” that allows us to create value for our shareholders, our bottom-line, our employees and our customers.
Trying to fit the tangible and intangible benefits of conversations, relationships and subsequent transactions into a “box“ is the wrong perspective. Most management practices are focused on end results without a comprehension of the value attributes, many intangible that create the results. Just ask Domino’s Pizza executive team how they feel about the results created by social media, in this case terrible results.
When we talk about conversations, relationships, knowledge and social networks many business leaders view these topics as intangibles and as such they cannot put them in a neat “box” to analyze, measure and capture on financial statements. Every business has off line social networks where people engage in conversations, enhance relations and share knowledge. The currency of conversations can be the knowledge gained as a result of the conversations. To have conversations there must be some basis of a relationship, whether close or distant.
Businesses create value from and through relations they have with employees, suppliers, customers and the entire market they aim to serve. The relationships become enriched via the conversations and the subsequent sharing of knowledge. Social currency is exchanged from sharing knowledge that improves peoples ability to reach their objectives. Sharing knowledge is a process of helping people solve problems or creating solutions that were not previously present. The exchange of socail currency has been and will always be a critical ingredient for businesses to succeed.
Enter The Social Web
The social web is a dynamic “system” of ever evolving behaviors influenced by technology and the characteristics of participation by the participants. Engaging in todays social web is a journey and the driving factor is collective learning as we seek to find relevant content, relations, social acceptance and “connectivity” with our particular audience.
The difference between our off line and online audiences is reach and the rates of conversational exchanges. Online the exchanges explode as participants are attracted to a subject matter or person. The conversations fuel learning which in turn creates a “knowledge exchange” for those wishing to increase their value through knowledge. Knowledge gained and applied increases one’s value in the marketplace of conversations. Knowledge helps individuals and businesses gain value by apply knowledge gained to any one or set of problems. Accelerated exchanges increase the exchanges and the larger the crowd the faster rate of knowledge is exchanged by a diverse audience of participants. Knowledge is cleamed from information that is sourced to crowd who in turn engage in the meaning and relevancy of the information. From these exchanges new knowledge can be discovered or old knowledge redistributed to a larger audience.
Learning something new is considered new knowledge. In the case of a brand making a major public relations mistake the audience first learns of the mistake then discussing the implication one to one to millions for the world to see. Given the transparency of open conversations the lessons learned or observed are open for the world to observe, both the good ones as well as the bad ones. Lessons learned becomes the new new knowledge that is shared and discussed with all those considering it relevant.
The conversational currency is knowledge. For those that bring new knowledge to the conversations are increasing the value of their “social capital”. Those that benefit from the knowledge shared become followers waiting for yet the next piece of knowledge to be shared. The value perpetuated within these dynamics is the social currency of credibility and relevance. Credibility and relevance are the foundation of an economic transaction.
Do your conversations encompass the product of knowledge? Knowledge perpetuates innovation and innovation perpetuates new markets which create new commerce. The secret sauce of the social web is knowledge that fuels innovation. Social currency perpetuates an exchange of value that can be converted to a currency.
What say you?