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Social Media beyond the march of the infantile.

by Michael Maoz  |  August 19, 2010  |  2 Comments

Social media and the analysis of social movement are yielding important clues about what motivates groups of like-minded people, or persona. A rich vein of information derives that can drive more targeted marketing campaigns and improve everything from service processes to product development.

So far, so good. I think there are the beginnings of a clearer three way split between the tools that help consumers fuel their inner metaphysical solipsism, those that give an enterprise a laser focus on current and likely future state of customer need, and those that are about consumers seeking out the opinions of their peers.

In fact, the three types of social media products fit together: the first as a lure to the willing masses who participate herd-like in whatever is the narcotic Happy Days of the moment, the second is inside the corporate firewall where data can be thrown at specific business problems.  The third is what folks like Lithium, Jive, Mzinga, GetSatisfaction and 50 other companies are helping with: connect peers seeking insight. This last piece is all about a search for honest, unambiguous and authentic opinion.

All are critical. Eliciting the participation of as many people as possible, across the broadest set of demographics and psychographics, is key to meaningful information, just as it is to the improvement of a search algorithm.  It is an appeal to the webizens desire to be a part of something that makes them feel unique and recognized. Go with that. It is just the latest version of Marshall McLuhan’s, The Medium is the Message. Resistance is futile.

I am not concerned so much about ROI as some of my cohorts. I still don’t know the value of the mobile phone, iPad, email or plain old phone to the enterprise in terms of hard ROI, but I don’t see anyone shutting them off. Social Media and social tools are just another channel in this regard: Every enterprise must have a solution.

The next piece of work for many of us is to separate out the several social initiatives and understand how they fit together. They do fit together. Even the buzzy, narcissistic feeling bits are absolutely vital, and to dismiss them as infantile is to miss the point that it is there, and you can tap into it, and it matters to the participants.  Old thinking says it is dumb, like pet rocks and hullahoops and Silly Bandz. Good luck with that. In play there is meaning. Analytics can find the patterns. Focused participation is driven from the insight about the patterns.

Three parts, one strategy, and none is trivial.

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

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 Social Media beyond the march of the infantile.


  1. Sam Liu says:

    I agree w/ your comment re. “ROI”. Though important, many times it is a wall thrown up by folks who don’t quite understand the value prop or it’s simply not high on their priority list.

    Like the cell phone, social media is simply another communications/entertainment tool. The value is up to the individual users. I value it, it’s affordable, so I use it. Simple as that.

    For corporations it’s a bit more complicated since now you have a “committee” of individuals trying to determine value, each w/ their own opinion. Sometimes what’s needed is simply having someone in charge that has enough confidence in the value and make a decision.



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