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Do You Need a Business Case for Social Media?

Posted by on May 19, 2011

I had an interesting dinner meeting with a prospect today about how they might use social media.  They are a b2b subscription based publication and they were wondering if they should be in the space.  I thought about it for a minute and resisted the temptation to just say “yes.”  Because after all just “being” somewhere and having a few accounts online doesn’t really mean much.  One of the folks at dinner asked me a simple and point blank question which I’m sure many people would have said yes to.  He asked me, “should we have a facebook page or a twitter account?”

This brought up an interesting discussion around the requirements of a business case or business problem as a pre-cursor to social media.  In other words, do you have to have a business problem you are looking to solve?  Sometimes organizations say things such as, “we want to improve our sales process and we believe that using social data can make that improvement happen,” or “our marketing efforts could really benefit from social media, what can we do?”  But sometimes organizations say, “we really don’t have a specific problem we are trying to solve, we just want to know what we could be doing or where some opportunities might be.”  The same is true for enterprise collaboration.  Sometimes organizations know what they need to fix, other times they just know they could be doing things differently (and hopefully better) but they just don’t know how or what the options are.

This is a bit of a different discussion because instead of coming up with solutions to problems you are trying to help identify or find what the problem is (or what the opportunity is).  It was a great reminder to me that sometimes organizations know and believe that they should be doing something but they just aren’t sure why or what the benefit is.  This doesn’t make the organization stupid, wrong, or negligent in any way.  After nobody out there has all the answers.

So what’s the solution to the question of, “do we need to have a business problem or business case before using social media?”  Well, I believe the answer is still “yes”, however instead of making a fully committed investment with a large scale strategy, community platform, etc.  I think organizations need to start with half or full day sessions to explore how business is currently being doing, how business can be augmented with social technologies, and what the value of doing so to the organization is.  There is nothing wrong with starting small and figuring these things out first.

If you’re interested in getting started with a half or full day session feel free to email me.

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  • Richard – DOWN UNDER online

    Talk about taking the safe way out of the discussion. In other words a safe answer to someone who wants a ‘yes’ instead of a discussion of does their market use social networking.  I totally agree with Chris when he writes ‘comes from agencies and individuals with a vested interest in hyping it’.

    As the author wrote ‘There is nothing wrong with starting small and
    figuring these things out first.’ 
    I wonder how much money he makes off
    of his hype promoting social media workshops?

    It’s vogue to be a part of Social Networking. 
    Yes, there is a ‘vested interest in hyping it’.  Everyone’s out looking to make the buck.

    I have clients who attend seminars about Social Networking.  They then write me and tell me of their disappointment that I haven’t been pro-active in getting them to participate in the Social Networking. Most of my clients expect me to set up, monitor, and respond to the ‘hundreds of responses’ they have been told to expect. Social Networking means personal engagement & communication. Yet, the client doesn’t have the time or desire to ‘engage’.  In addition the client doesn’t even know if their market/clients participates in Social Networking.  But, the seminar guest speaker told them they need to participate in Social Networking and their company is the right choice to … dare I write it …. ‘engage’.

    Before a company sets up a Facebook or Twitter account they should survey their client base and determine if the client actually uses Social Media . . . most won’t even bother asking the clients.  They’ve been told in seminars they can increase their sales. 

    • jacobmorgan

      Hi Richard,

      Not really sure how I’m really “hyping social media” here.  I assure you that I alone am not the cause for the “hype.”  Brands and large organizations are doing quite well on their own.   

  • Chris Stephens

    Why do you delete comments which criticise social media mania and all its fadism? 

    Surely part of being ‘social’ is to be be critical?  Isnt that what free speech is founded upon?

    • jacobmorgan

      Hi Chris, 

      I deleted the comment because I thought it was insulting and condescending. Since I invite you to take part in discussion here I don’t put up with insults.

      There is a difference between PUSHING training sessions on someone and writing a post on a topic and mentioning that training is something my company offers.

      You can criticize “social media mania and all its fadism” just don’t make it personal against me or anyone else.  If you still think social is a fad well then I don’t know what to tell you… 

  • Shim Marom

    Hi Jacob, I’ve come across your post doing some research on this very

    In a nutshell I’m a sceptic. Not that I don’t see the potential
    value in utilising social media, it is more about the hype associated
    with that potential. I’m looking for a business case for social media
    that carries a bit more than words (eloquently as they might be) but a
    real business case that is presented in monetary ROI language – which
    is, after all the language spoken by the business.

    I wonder what would your thoughts be in that context.

    Cheers, Shim.

    • jacobmorgan

      Hi Shim,

      Lithium has dozen of case studies on how their customer communities are generating ROI for their clients, as do most other community platforms.  I think this site also has many of them: 

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  • Reginald Jackson

    Nice post. I can agree how businesses are more prone now to at least explore the possibility of using social media as a business plan.

  • social business

    I totally agree with you – no matter what kind of business you have, no matter whether you understand benefits or not, you have to use social media for your business. The first benefits that come into my mind is that you get extra customers. In addition, you’re building relations with potentional clients. The more social your business is the more people trust your company. Instead of wasting thousands of dollars on billboard and newspapers’ adds you may get the same result with just spending 30 min a day online. Good luck with your social media campaigns!