How to Use Social Media to Create Business Value

According to a report from IBM, 62 percent of enterprises will increase social business spending in the next three years. But companies are still struggling with the cultural changes that a social business implementation requires. Here's a look at new statistics plus tips for ensuring adoption.

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Wed, November 14, 2012

CIO — What makes your business a top business? According to a new report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, it could be how well your company implements social business.

In "The Business of Social Business," authors James Cortada, Eric Lesser and Peter Korsten argue that social is no longer "simply a 'sandbox' for the under-30 generation." Merely developing and deploying the technology isn't enough.

"[...] Companies at the forefront are doing more than developing a presence on major platforms. They are taking their external social tools and embedding them into core business processes and capabilities. They are using social approaches not only to communicate better with their suppliers, business partners and, perhaps, most important, their employees."

IBM's study of more than 1,100 businesses around the globe reveals that investment in social business is on the rise: Forty-six percent of the companies surveyed increased their investments in social business in 2012, and 62 percent indicated they are going to increase their expenditures in the next three years.

The sudden rise of social business is challenging the corporate culture at some companies, which respondents indicate is something they're struggling with: Nearly three-quarters report they were underprepared for the required cultural changes.

"Executives are concerned because social business represents a different way of thinking about employees, customers and how work is accomplished, as well as the potential risks of increased organizational openness and transparency," the report says.

Here's a look at the study's top findings, plus tips for how your company can transform into a successful social business.

[How to Succeed at Social Business]

Embedding Social Into the Organization

"Our survey and interviews have made one thing clear," the report says. "Those organizations experiencing the most success in social business approaches know they have to make fundamental changes in the way their employees worked across the entire enterprise."


Click image for full infographic.

Successfully embedding social business into an organization requires three steps, according to the report:

1. Consider how to incorporate social metrics into traditional enterprises and processes. According to the report, only about 20 percent of organizations are able to define key performance indicators and track the ROI of social business efforts. Those that couldn't do so struggled with their social initiative.

But quantifying results based only on cost-savings isn't sufficient, the report finds. Instead, businesses should consider piloting a project to demonstrate the hard and soft benefits of a social initiative and compare it to the performance of individuals not using the social tool.

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