Destroying Social Value

by Jay Deragon on 01/30/2011

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 destroyed rather than increased. In other words social media potentials are being destroyed by current useage.

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  stop destroying this thing being called social media and instead focus on building real value with it.


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Bertha Q. Albert February 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Theyre either going to save your brand from eternal irrelevance or theyre Twitter freaks in search of attention. Both characterizations are wrong…Ive always felt that social media is a monumental consumer phenomena after all guess where the talk about social media gurus is happening – on the social media sites! but its impact on organizations is still being understood. Ive come to believe that social media is even more important to companies than I earlier thought. But hiring a social media guru is not always the answer..Enter Social Influence Marketing. At Razorfish we define social influence marketing as employing social media and social influencers to achieve the marketing and business objectives of an organization.

Brian Driggs February 1, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I see your devaluation and ROI points, Jay. Still, I don’t think social media should offer any protection for those organizations and business units which insincerely “serve” society more thin value “innovation” and dumb growth. It should accelerate failure just as rapidly – if not more rapidly – than it does success.

To me, it doesn’t matter what they call it; could be Albino Monkey Basket Media for all I care. The more thin-value-flipping corporate shills get burned by snake oil salesmen and go out, the better. It opens up the market to genuine innovators sincerely interested in serving their fellow man.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

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