Social Networking in the Enterprise

There’s an interesting story on ReadWriteWeb (RWW) and the Wall Street Journal this week about Social Networking failures in the enterprise.

An excerpt from the WSJ:

One of the hot investments for businesses these days is online communities that help customers feel connected to a brand. But most of these efforts produce fancy Web sites that few people ever visit. The problem: Businesses are focusing on the value an online community can provide to themselves, not the community.

Both articles use recent research released by Deloitte.  This research suggests that:

enterprises have begun to effectively use social media tools and online communities to engage with customers and employees for brand discussions, idea generation and product discovery. However, the survey also indicates that while these online initiatives are having a positive impact, enterprises have not yet harnessed the true potential of these communities.

I would agree with the last sentence.  The enterprise hasn’t truly figured out how to use social media tools to engage employees and clients.

WSJ provides a few numbers from the Deloitte study that prove enlightning.

  • Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members
  • Less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 60% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects.

Interesting numbers that some can point to as failures of social networking…but I think organizations are coming around on the need for social media but just haven’t figured out how to ‘manage’ these communities.  The Deloitte survey points to poor community management as one of the biggest roadblocks to any organization implementing social media projects.  The research report states

Conversely, poorly managed online communities are a critical barrier to their effectiveness. Forty-five percent of respondents recognize that finding enough time to manage the community is one of the biggest obstacles to making communities work. Survey respondents also see facilitation (25 percent) and quality of the community manager (34 percent) as two features that greatly impact the community’s effectiveness, making it critical for companies to devote the necessary resources to this important role.

So…what this research tells me is that organizations have the technology in place to turn on a social network and they’ve turned them on.  But…very few have figured out that it isn’t the technology that makes a social network a success…it’s the people involved that make it work.

Sounds like many other posts on this blog doesn’t it?  🙂  It isn’t the technology…its the people that will lead you to success.

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FreshNetworks Blog » Blog Archive » Some evidence of online community benefitsFreshNetworks Blog » Blog Archive » More clarity on branded online communities ‘failing’Eric D. BrownBobWarfieldUh oh | SocialMedia404 Recent comment authors
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BobWarfield
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You’ve got a good point about the need for people to make a community work. I think another important issue is the need for customers to have a reason to visit the community or even get started with it in the first place. Some business purposes are pretty peripheral to the needs of the customer. Some are destination needs. Customer Service is an important destination need that can really help to jump start a community.

I’ve blogged about this subject here:

http://corpblog.helpstream.biz/helpstream-blog/2008/7/18/building-customer-communities-has-to-start-with-customer-ser.html

Cheers,

BW

Eric D. Brown
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Hi Bob – Thanks for the comment.

You are absolutely correct…its about the people. You can build a community, but without the people it doesn’t do you any good.

BTW – Great post over on your blog as well….I’ve just added you to my blogroll and feed reader to keep up with your posts.

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