In answer to the question in my blog title, I would contend that Enterprises have adopted social media and in fact could be considered an early adopter in some sense. Now before we get into an up-roaring debate about this, let me explain my theory.
I’ve been doing social marketing since early 2000 before there was such a term (see my interview with Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester Analyst and thought leader in social computing). Back then conversation was taking place on directories and boards asking the end user what they thought of a brand, product or service. Often, this early form of social marketing (also known as viral or guerrilla marketing) was used as part of market research leading to a strategy to help B2B organizations refine their offerings and better position themselves to their target audiences. Data gathered from these conversations was then re-applied to a number of initiatives within different business units such as product, marketing, sales, corporate communication, customer service and support. In fact, some of the primary goals behind these activities was to build awareness of the brand, product or service to generate qualified leads to the organization. Is this sounding familiar? Now here’s the catch: The majority of our clients at the time was B2B, specifically in Technology and Financial Services.
While social marketing is all the buzz today, what we did in 2000 is no different than what we do today with the exception that the tools with which we conduct these conversations are far more sophisticated and prolific then at the start of 2000. So when I read all the editorials today about how Enterprises are struggling to understand and use social media, I urge them to go back to the basics and really take a hard look at what social media really is. Is it really emerging, new, risky and unfamiliar? Or is it just a familiar marketing vehicle that has always been around but evolved with the times? I believe its the latter. When you look at it in this light, it really isn’t as risky of a proposition as it seems.
But if you’re anything like me, I like some cold, hard stats to have on hand when talking with management so let me provide some ammunition to your impending conversation. Within Enterprise size organizations today:
- Blogs are the most-used Web 2.0 technology (87% of respondents), followed by communities, wikis, RSS feeds and social networking.
- The most successful are blogs (44% of respondents), communities (42%) and wikis (39%).
- 96% say all Web 2.0 technologies they’ve used have been successful; 83% reporting no clear failures.
- The greatest obstacle to Web 2.0 deployment is limited internal resources.
- Some 64% of those using Web 2.0 technologies rely on a combination of internal- and external-facing media/tools.
- 28% of organizations with over 500 employees have budgets greater than $50,000 for web 2.0 tools or social media. (Still not enough in my mind but a decent start)
- The top tools planned are blogs and wikis (56%) but many are also planning to deploy online communities,” writes FASTforward’s Bill Ives.
Benefits of External Social Media Usage:
- Increased customer engagement: 68%
- Increased brand awareness & loyalty: 64%
- Effective market research: 58%
Benefits of Internal Social Media Usage:
- Improved communication, collaboration: 91%
- Locating experts within the company: 81%
- Improving knowledge management: 78%
Source: Awareness Study: “Trends in Adopting Web 2.0 for the Enterprise in 2007,”
If you’ve been practicing social media before it’s time, please reach out. I would love to hear your stories.