There’s No ROI For Social Media: Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

I find myself presenting at process related conferences and talking about the impact of Social Media on companies. It always gets a popular and warm reception – but also a slew of questions. It is spurring me to finish my latest book “Thinking of … Implementing Social Media? Ask the Smart Questions”.

Social media market

The Social Media market is unformed and uniformed. At a senior level, executives are struggling to understand what changes are required their strategy and operations to exploit or survive the social media onslaught. Lower down the organisation, managers often feel challenged by social media as their junior staff are adopting it in droves.

But social media has three very different ‘use cases’ in companies. Therefore it is wrong to simple talk about “social media in business”. The three use cases are split into 1 x Outside and 2 x Inside:

  • Outside: Using social media to develop stronger relationships with customers, partners, investors and analysts
  • Inside (1): Using social media to enable employees to collaborate to get a job done more easily or quickly
  • Inside (2): Using social media to improve the process of process improvement.

Real companies, not theory

But rather than talk theory, I like to give examples. A great example of Outside is Burberry.

After taking over in 2006, Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts revived the struggling British fashion brand.When Angela Ahrendts took over Burberry (BBRYF) in 2006, she had no time to waste. The 150-year-old label had lost its cache. In a sector growing 13%, its growth clocked in at 2%. Its best days seemed behind; Ahrendts needed to lean forward. “There was not time to even think about the downsides” of making big changes, she says.

By targeting a more youthful market and embracing digital and social media, the luxury brand is back in the game. Since Ahrendts, now 46, took over as CEO, the company’s stock has risen 200%.

Her recent interview at the Fortune Most Powerful Women event in London is insightful. If you want to understand in more detail what she did then read the article in Fortune called Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts: High tech’s fashion model.

Never too old to change

So if Burberry’s, a company with 150 years heritage can change, why can’t you?

Ian Gotts is CEO and Chairman of Nimbus Partners, an established and rapidly growing global software company, headquartered in the UK. He is a very experienced senior executive and serial entrepreneur, with a career spanning 25 years. Ian has co-authored a number of books including “Common Approach, Uncommon Results”, published in English and Chinese and in its second edition, "Why Killer Products Don't Sell" and books covering Cloud computing from the perspective of both the prospective buyer, and the software vendor. Having begun his career in 1983 as an engineer for British Rail, Ian then spent 12 years at Accenture (nee Andersen Consulting) specialising in the project management of major business critical IT projects. During this time, he spent two years as an IT Director, seconded to the Department for Social Security (DSS), with a department of over 500 and a budget responsibility of 40 million pounds.