If you are a senior executive — or have ever tried to convince one — wrestling with how, if, or whether your company should invest in social media, then you know exactly how tough it is to answer the “So where is the ‘return’ on that investment?” question!
At The Trend Curve we have seen our more successful clients — whether manufacturing furniture or accessories, in retail or even automotive — embrace and accelerate their use of social media. Many have either assigned people to manage their social interactions online or have hired “community managers” to do so. Social media has become not only a marketing channel that works when not overt (and is focused on helping people with problems, decision support and ultimately buying) but many organizations are using it to connect with one another inside their company for collaboration and find it significantly enhances the ability for people to innovate.
What is the value within social technologies and where is it hidden? How can you use it to accelerate productivity?
The McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm and ‘think tank’ of the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., has just released a new, free report entitled, The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. Like all other reports they’ve released of this nature, this one is free and is absolutely worth your time to read if you have any interest in this topic whatsoever. (Available as Executive Summary PDF; the full report PDF; an ebook for Amazon Kindle; or as ePub for iPad, Nook, Sony eReader and other devices).
The authors of this study, James Manyika, Michael Chui, and Hugo Sarrazin, also wrote this post at the Harvard Business Review touting their study and I really liked their first paragraph in that post since it about sums up the value of reading this report succinctly:
How’s this for counter-intuitive? Social technologies — the software and services that make it possible to show off your vacation pictures to all your Facebook friends and follow your favorite team tweet by tweet — are not just giant time sinks that keep your employees from getting their work done. On the contrary, they may become the most powerful tools yet developed to raise the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers — the kind of workers who help drive innovation and growth, and who are going to be in increasingly short supply.
How productive did they find social media use? For many of us the findings in this report simply confirm what we know intuitively about the power of social media and connecting with prospects, customers, colleagues and industry peers. But one of the reasons adoption of new technologies always lags we early adopters is because there isn’t mainstream, business-centric and authoritative voices confirming it for organizational leadership.
This study, while still making a few leaps here and there, represents just that sort of authorative voice. It will likely go a long way on motivating you (and/or your decisionmakers) to fund and accelerate the use of social media technologies. Just look at this graph and the “20 – 25 percent” productivity increase and you will see why social media use is worthy of your attention and others within your organization.