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If You Are Talking Facebook You Aren’t on the Social Leading Edge

by Anthony J. Bradley  |  March 6, 2012  |  7 Comments

I had an interesting call with a US retailer a few days ago. And by interesting I don’t mean good. They are not a Gartner client and it became clear pretty quickly that they wanted me to prove how Gartner could possibly help them since they are on the leading edge of social media.

They talked about the special relationship they have with Facebook and the Facebook functionality and related technologies they are using. They also talked a good bit about Twitter. It was Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Twitter (with some mobile technology this and that thrown in) and apparently they have little interest in LinkedIn, Pinterest and some other social Web environments.

So I started talking to them about social media strategy best practices and they stopped me cold. They said they had the strategy down and wanted to get into the weeds. I carefully remarked that, we can talk about the weeds, but they may not have the strategy down as much as they think. This is where it got a bit contentious (which is very unusual BTW) as they really did not like that I was questioning their leading edge status. After all, they have a special relationship with Facebook!

So let me go on the record here in stating that:

If you are talking primarily about social media channels and technologies then the chances are very high that you are not leading edge.    

Leading edge organizations talk about the community collaboration they facilitate and the business value resulting from meaningful participant interactions.

And, from my research, the vast majority of organizations that are building high value customer communities are not doing it on Facebook or Twitter (or LinkedIn and Pinterest for that matter). Not that there is anything wrong with them (obscure Seinfeld reference). Smile 

Having a Facebook page and/or a Twitter account, no matter how robust, is no longer good enough to be leading edge (and it hasn’t been for quite a while). So I then went to this organization’s web site and Facebook page and didn’t really see any community collaboration facilitation going on. Though they did have a few hundred thousand Facebook “Likes.” So they’ve got that going for them (obscure Caddyshack reference).

Opposing positions welcome. I guess supporting ones are welcome also.


I co-authored a book "The Social Organization." Check it out!

Social Organization-blog


Anthony J. Bradley
10 years at Gartner
26 years in IT

Anthony J. Bradley is a group vice president in Gartner Research responsible for the research content that Gartner publishes through its three internet businesses (, and These responsibilities include creating and leading the research organization and infrastructure needed for the strategy formulation, planning, research, creation, editing, production and distribution of the content. He has four global teams of highly talented people who are advancing towards the world's greatest destination for content on how small businesses succeed through information technology.

Thoughts on If You Are Talking Facebook You Aren’t on the Social Leading Edge

  1. Erin O'Hara says:

    You are a funny smart guy! I agree with your thoughts on what is and what isn’t social leading edge. Far to many times do I hear companies tell me their social media strategy is facebook and twitter…Likes don’t mean quality interactions…it only takes a second to press the like button but there should be an option..that say’s \what do you like about us?\

  2. Eric L. says:

    Yes in total agreement! The focus should be on deriving value, not on the means, for customers through a collaborative mix of channels. It is relatively easy to elicit (any) response, but the real deal lies within those that provide quality feedback for further improvement.

  3. […] had an interesting call with a US retailer a few days ago. And by interesting I don’t mean good.Via Share this:LinkedInTwitterFacebookStumbleUponEmailTumblrMoreDiggRedditPrintLike this:LikeBe the […]

  4. The company on the other side of the call appears to have bought into the hype of social media as it applies to the Internet, but have not adjusted the model for the Enterprise Social Media experience that should provide true business value, improve communication, increase transparency, and enable mass collaboration. It is a slippery slope with Enterprise Social Media. Companies are quick to jump on the band wagon without understanding the how the enterprise should apply social media to drive business outcomes.

  5. Tim Burrows says:

    I get in principal what you are saying, but what I don’t understand how you imply that the social media platforms don’t play into it.
    With a huge potential customer base and bigger community available in the social space, the platforms have to be factored in. Could you fill in what I’m missing here?

  6. Anthony J. Bradley says:

    I’m not saying that the social media channels and technologies don’t play into it. They are very important community collaboration enablers. But as Eric L. points out, they are the means not the ends. It is important to focus on the ends (community collaboration and business value) before you settle on the means (social channel or technology) or you run the significant risk of choosing the wrong social outlet or at least limiting value through the choice. The vast majority of organizations I see try to do far too much on Facebook under the justification, “that is where the people are” and fail miserably. Figure out what collaboration you want to foster and for what value to the community and the org then determine the best social environment in which to pursue. I’m hoping to blog more tomorrow about corporate Facebook misuse.
    Thanks for your comments. Thanks to all.

  7. Tim Burrows says:

    That’s the blank I was missing! Strategy before action, a novel concept!! I get three years, maybe even two years ago, that was a norm, but it sure shouldn’t be now. By the way, one of the words in my captcha challenge was”distressing”… incidentally how I feel about captcha. 😉

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