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Rushing into Social: A Cautionary Tale

5869890155_c10ea937c1_m (1)We’ve been telling you for a long time now that rushing into “the next big thing,” especially online, is not a great strategy. In fact, it cannot really be called a strategy at all. It’s more simply following what is hot at that particular moment and jumping on top of it. We have tried to tell you that jumping onto a new platform without a plan can have countless negative repercussions. But maybe you did not believe us. Maybe this idea of “wait and see” seemed sort of retro to you, or too cautious.

That potential doubt in what we were saying is why we want to share with you an article we found on the BtoBOnline site last week. Titled, “Report sees lack of social media-business alignment,” the article summarizes findings from a recent Altimeter report, which you can access here. Out of interviews with 26 executives and from reviews of 698 executives who participated in the survey, it was discovered that:

• Only 48% of companies have a long term vision of how social will impact their company

• Only 34% felt there were clear metrics tying social to actual business outcomes

• Only 27% said they felt everyone throughout their organization understood how to use social on behalf of the company

The report also scathingly notes that:

“The allure of social media can spread quickly through an organization, with many different departments – and goals – competing for the attention of the same social customers…At companies without a coordinating hub, the resulting silos, blurred vision, undefined infrastructure, and the lack of coordination and governance make charting a course in the right direction elusive.”

Ouch.

Paul Gillin, online marketing consultant and author of the B2B article, notes,

The Altimeter research confirms much of what I’ve seen in my own interactions with b2b companies. They charge into social networks because they think it’s the thing to do rather than because they see a business benefit. While there’s nothing wrong with experimentation, management needs to understand that these experiments are public and precedent-setting. Too often executives pass social media responsibility off to junior staffers—usually within the marketing department—and then wash their hands of the problem.

We hate to say we told you so, but we did tell you so. In fact, this philosophy is what lies behind our “Fly on the Wall” social media research service.

Rushing into social media because you or your department wants to take ownership of it is a huge mistake. Rushing into social because you figure you might as well is a huge mistake particularly if the rest of your company isn’t on board. Rushing into social without a plan can create silos, and, as Altimeter discovered, “Blurred vision.” These things can all have far worse ramifications for your company than failing to jump on to the newest social media train.

It’s simply not worth the risk, at least not in our opinion.

Take some time to read the entire Altimeter report. It not only explores the fact that some companies are less “mature” when it comes to social media, but it also maps out how businesses can adapt to the new social world.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imarlon/5869890155/ via Creative Commons

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2 comments on “Rushing into Social: A Cautionary Tale

  1. Liked your article and agree with you totally. Businesses want to get onto social media only because competitors are or simply because everybody is. It is absolutely essential to see how social media will benefit the business in the long run and then invest in it and not invest to see if it will bring benefits. Good planning is definitely called for.

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