The Devaluation Of Social Media

by Jay Deragon on 11/03/2009

Social technology is being devalued by labels and sophomoric uses being applied by most of today’s users. It is also being devalued by the current pricing of “social media” products and services offered by early adopters claiming to be “social media” experts and guru’s.

Lets put things into context. Devaluation is a reduction in the value of a something with respect to its initial or potential value. In common modern usage, it specifically implies an official lowering of the  economic value perceived by the market.   The opposite of devaluation is called revaluation. Revaluation means a rise of a the price of  services or products which is usually created by the markets perception of new value created. Revaluation is usually created by the introduction of new knowledge or innovation created by or from the previously devalued product or service.

A market that doesn’t understand the value of something or “how” to create value with something usually demands to understand the ROI from something.  Trying to understand ROI from something without  understanding how to create value with something is shortsighted. Sound familiar?

Social media is getting a lot of attention, maybe the wrong attention. Much of the online and off line media is positioning “social media” as another marketing channel and their usage reflects their beliefs. Everyone is talking about the ROI from social media or trying to define it. Most metrics and examples are all tied to a response from marketing and advertising messaging using social media. While applicable to those vertical uses organizations are missing the larger value that can and should be created and captured. By narrowing the markets view and use of the relevant technology the value is being limited rather than expanded. In other words devalued.

The Revaluation Of Social Media

McKinsey Consulting looks at social technology as more than social media. As the premier management consulting firm in the world they view “social technology” as a significant enhancement to collaboration and communication processes. An enhancement that changes everything a business does, not just marketing and advertising. How much can be saved from improving communications and collaboration?

waste of collaborationIn an In article titled “Using technology to improve workforce collaboration James Manyika, Kara Sprague and Lareina Yee write: Consider the collaborative creative work needed to win an advertising campaign or the high levels of service needed to satisfy public citizens. Or, in a similar vein, the interplay between a company and its customers or partners that results in an innovative product.

Raising the quality of these interactions is largely uncharted territory. Taking a systematic view, however, helps bring some of the key issues into focus. Our research suggests that improvements depend upon getting a better fix on who actually is doing the collaborating within companies, as well as understanding the details of how that interactive work is done. Just as important is deciding how to support interactions with technology—in particular, Web 2.0 tools such as social networks, wikis, and video. There is potential for sizeable gains from even modest improvements. Our survey research shows that at least 20 percent and as much as 50 percent of collaborative activity results in wasted effort. And the sources of this waste—including poorly planned meetings, unproductive travel time, and the rising tide of redundant e-mail communications, just to name a few—are many and growing in knowledge-intense industries.

To put this in better perspective consider what happens when organizations use social media solely as a advertising and marketing channel. They are likely to initially get the markets attention and in doing so increase the cost of responding to said attention. Worse, the market takes notice then criticizes the brand or organization for terrible service, poor customer relations or “spamming” the market. Worse yet is that the organizations employee attitudes reflected in their online conversations produce a negative sentiment about the organization. These incidents are happening everywhere because organizations do not think systemically about social technology. Rather they think about marketing and advertising. A big difference.

ROI is driven by efficiency, effectiveness and innovation. Communications and collaboration creates efficiency, effectiveness and innovation. ROI is an end result of doing things right and doing the right things. Measuring the wrong things and measuring them wrong doesn’t create a return on anything. It’s time to create a revaluation of this thing being called social media.

What say you?


Simon Mainwaring November 17, 2009 at 8:22 pm

RT @JDeragon The Devaluation Of Social Media

ingenesist November 8, 2009 at 3:14 pm

RT @JDeragon The Devaluation Of Social Media

ingenesist November 8, 2009 at 9:14 am

RT @JDeragon The Devaluation Of Social Media

basilio_ November 7, 2009 at 8:20 am

time to rethink social media to better exploit its potential? – The Devaluation Of Social Media #socialmedia

Spiral Vibe November 5, 2009 at 5:38 am

The Devaluation Of Social Media

Dan Morrill November 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm

The Devaluation Of Social Media

Dan Morrill November 4, 2009 at 8:20 am

The Devaluation Of Social Media | The Relationship Economy……

Social8Media November 4, 2009 at 4:15 am

The comments on this post are a good example of the devaluation of social media. Instead of a solid bunch of comments and dialogue all I see are a bunch of RT from Twitter. Poor use of this technology and the reason why social media is moving towards spam media. Juts a bunch of noise being shot out a fire hose by people who are not even volunteer firefighters. Actually, with the technologies out these days it is more like giving a 6 year old a loaded uzi.

Avi Joseph November 4, 2009 at 12:00 am

RT @tweetmeme The Devaluation Of Social Media

Vegas Bill ? November 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

The Devaluation Of Social Media (via @fruchter) Brands thinks they can just market on Twitter.

Edward E Tenison Sr November 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Very insightful blog entry on misunderstanding misapplying social media and the ongoing debate on figuring it's ROI!!

Mike Fruchter November 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

The Devaluation Of Social Media

Matt Bales November 3, 2009 at 11:43 am

Jay – another very informative and spot on post!

Your point that it is time to revaluate the impact of social media on a business’ marketing strategy is very interesting, given that social media is still considered a “new technology” and many struggle to assign it quantifiable ROI.

I would be most interested to see how an executive level marketing person would value social media considering it requires a complete evolution of their practices, relationships and inevitably their comfort levels.

I would love to hear your thoughts on that topic at some point as it I think it would be very interesting to your readers.

Again, another great piece!

David Blanar November 3, 2009 at 8:25 am

I completely agree ROI is a questionable metric to focus on alone: it is a post hoc measurement, not a future decision-making tool.

Saying that, I’m not sure a brand can completely dismiss it for the possibility that the public will shout and scream if it’s not done to a superior standard.

Unlike previous business challenges which could be solved by inserting MBAs or freshly-skilled talent, the knowledge brands require for harnessing social media requires fundamental, DNA changes within an organisation. There is, sadly, no shortcut; we learn by doing.

Alltop November 3, 2009 at 6:11 am

The Devaluation Of Social Media

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