The Business Case for Social Media?

I haven’t seen one yet, but it’s coming, no doubt.

A business case for social media, or anything else, can be made when something (like social media) creates a gain in operating or financial performance/business measures that is greater than the investment made to generate the gain. While there are certainly isolated examples where elements of social media have improved information exchange and produced good business outcomes, it’s a huge stretch to say they’ve had a major impact on revenues, product or service quality, costs, cycle time or productivity, which are the measures used in determining a business case.

Recently I heard a couple of social media “experts” speak at a conference. They spent more than an hour gushing about activity—all the social media things companies were doing. But my mother’s voice kept filling my head as these guys spoke. I think all mothers read the same book that said: When your son or daughter says everyone is doing something, here’s the right way to respond: “Just because everybody’s doing something doesn’t necessarily make it right. If everyone were jumping off a thousand foot cliff, should you jump off the cliff?”

So I asked the guys if the companies they were talking about had experienced better business performance after all their investments in social media activity.

“Oh, I’m sure they have,” the lead expert answered.

“Do you have any examples,” I asked.

“Well, no, but I’m sure they have or they wouldn’t be doing it.”

Yeah, right.

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