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Lost and Drowning in the Social Swamp.

by Michael Maoz  |  February 18, 2011  |  2 Comments

RIM/Gist, LinkedIn, Salesforce.com/Jigsaw, your CRM account, Outlook, iPhone, RenRen, Kaixin001, Twitter – and we are only putting our digital toes in the social business morass. Where is home base? Many business users of social networks and social media are looking pretty frazzled managing their contacts, synchronizing contacts, communicating on all of the correct channels, sending feeds, receiving feeds, subscribing to alerts.

The miracle? In certain parts of the world – ok, the majority of the planet, business is not relying on the next Facebook Connect or Google business network, and sales still get booked.

I am not the first one to note that many users of social are feeling queasy here. The interesting inflection will come if and when we have a return to a sagging economy. Currently we are in a ‘rising tides’ scenario where everything is beautiful and money is flowing in IT and the line of business. What happens when we take the ‘metrics pen’ out and start asking the hard questions about the value of any of these investments of dubious value.

How long does the argument hold up that: “Boss, I saved a lot of money in the short term compared to the last software we were using!” Are you selling more as a direct result? Really? How do you know? Are you comparing success after factoring out positive change in the economy in your sector? The answer is NO 100% of the time. Don’t trust me: bring me proof that I am wrong – and bring me convincing proof, not Pixie dust.

Employees are investing gobs of time ‘communicating’ and ‘engaging’ and ‘listening to the community.’ Not every economic scenario is kind to NavelGazing 101.

Category: cloud  crm  customer-centric-web  innovation-and-customer-experience  leadership  social-crm  social-networking  social-software  strategic-planning  twitter  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Lost and Drowning in the Social Swamp.


  1. Isn’t the number of Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers the new measure of business value, much better than old-fashioned revenue? 😉

  2. Jim Watson says:

    Michael, you raise an interesting point that certainly needs to be raised, much to the chagrin of some social media evangelists.

    Time and opportunity costs (of not doing something else with the time that’s being invested into using social media) do need to be factored into the ROI equation for social media.

    I’ve gotta believe that much of the time invested into the use of social media today is a necessary cost of just learning how to use this stuff; the heavy “learning curve cost” that will gradually decrease over the next few years, as companies become more proficient with the use of these tools.

    And I suspect that we’re likely to see more technologies that allow us to gain the benefits of social media, without investing nearly as much time.

    So, to your point, yes – the time we spend using social media may be sucking the daylights out of its potential return, but is this time suck just a temporary phenomenon in the longer-term technology learning curve?



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