Is Social Media Relevant to Business?

RelevanceThere are hundreds of companies that sell their Social Media Monitoring services. Many more startups are working hard on bringing more to the market. Clearly there is an expectation of great value from the intelligence produced by these efforts when applied to important business decisions. Based on the lack of examples available to the public, these expectations are not met very often. When they are met or exceeded, companies don’t rush to share their triumphs publically in fear of alerting competition.

Surely there are many stories about social media monitors providing data for tactical business actions, like customer support engagement and PR damage control. However, these are serving as triggers or alerts for engagement and only scratch the proverbial surface of value that can be derived if the data is transformed into information, and then knowledge.

Current use of social media as yet another channel for customer support does not strike me as a fiscally sustainable or strategically impactful business vision. So far it has not produced any evidence of improvement in Customer Experience quality or reduction of operating expenses – it is just another channel for obtaining a mediocre support for mediocre products at additional cost to business.

The challenge is to stop the fixation with data points and start working on connecting the dots. The sheer volume of data seems to induce Attention Deficit Disorder-like symptoms and causes us to disregard the relative meaning of the data in the context of business “reality”.

To become relevant we need to build a path from Data (one point) to Information (two points compared), to Knowledge (correlations), to Wisdom (causation). Below is an illustration of such transformation within a Marketing context. Click on the image to make it larger.




This illustration implies a much deeper analysis of social media content, than the practice of counting transactions, and linking the information to operational data. The importance of that linkage cannot be overstated because without it social media information is not relevant to business.

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