Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ZDNet's Tom Foremski Misses the Mark on Corporate Social Adoption

Ah…another cry for social media as merely a channel for listening, conversation and community.  Of course, it’s written by someone who has no revenue generation or profit and loss responsibilities.

ZDNet's Tom Foremski recent blog post "Social media is not corporate media" presents an idealistic, yet completely unsustainable view of how corporations should view their social participation.  He refers to organizations that actually attempt to derive a measurable return as merely creating some form of “mutant corporate media.”

Wrong…wrong…wrong!  What Foremski fails to grasp is that companies typically allocate budget and then maintain funding for activities that contribute to top-line revenue growth, profitability and/or cost control. 

This notion of social media as some sort of soft, relationship building vehicle with no measurable outcome is far-fetched.

My colleague and partner Chris Parente offers an insightful comment to Foremski’s column, which I have included below.

Chris’ thoughts are a lot kinder than my take:  “Hey Tom, go run a business line at ZDNet and be held accountable for meeting financial goals.  Then you can present a more realistic view of corporate social engagement.”  

Good points but some caveats
Tom -- good post. I can't disagree with anything you've said -- companies still think control, don't listen enough, and there sure are some smarmy, self-proclaimed experts out there who somehow get companies to pay them.
All that said, in the b2b and b2g worlds I live in, projects need to demonstrate some kind of quantifiable ROI to get funded. Period. Naked conversations that don't lead to anything won't cut it. My engagements are always more quality than quantity plays, so that no doubt helps.

If a client can publish truly interesting content on a regular basis (with my help of course), express an opinion, respond to comments and build an audience, there's nothing wrong with trying to appropriately monetize that audience.

Some successful tactics my agency has employed include off-line events, registration required content and social media mapping that moves a prospect through the sales tunnel.

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