MAD Perspectives Blog

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 What is social media?

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 05, 2009

As I've been ramping up MAD Perspectives and talking to former colleagues and potential clients, the same question continues to arise.  This question highlights the reason why consultants are jumping into the social media mix.  The question is:  what is social media and why is it important to my business?  I had made an assumption as I ramped up this business.  That assumption was that my potential clients understood what social media is.  Well, you know what they say about assumptions!

Social media (aka social networking, social computing, social software) is a software, platform or technology that enables employees, business partners, companies and customers to connect, communicate and collaborate. Social media is participatory, online media where news, photos, videos, podcasts are shared for feedback by anyone.  Social media is open and democratic.  It is a listening platform that can act as a guidepost for information about your brand, products and services.

The business use of these technolgoies varies based on company goals.  Many of the initial business uses of social media were external facing.  Companies like Dell, Comcast, JetBlue and others utilized Facebook and Twitter to augment their online customer support capabilities.  They actively listened to their customers to address perceptions of poor customer support and subsequently improved their relationships with their customers.

The evolution (not revolution) that is currently under way is about how to leverage these platforms, within the enterprise, to:

- form communities based on common interests, expertise or knowledge
- share information
- invite debate
- find specialized knowledge
- organize work teams
- collaborate on work projects
- increase visibility

The benefits to the enterprise fall into categories such as:  sharing best practices, improving knowledge sharing and knowledge management, increased socialization within the enterprise, adding structure to ad hoc conversations, capturing collective knowledge, enhanced project management, reducing travel expenses.

It is important to define and gain agreeement and committment to your company goals for the use of social media.  Social media touches all business groups in your company.  I've highlighted a few ideas on how social media can help your business.  I encourage you to think about how social media can help your company achieve its goals. 

What's your perspective?