“Free” puppies are deceptively cute. They may be easy to take home on a whim, especially if you have a persistent child who “must have that puppy.” However, like most things in life, they are not free. After taking home your “free” puppy a significant amount of time and money must be in invested in caring for the puppy. In fact, this blog calculated the cost of a “free” puppy is actually $649.
In the same way, social media tools are not “free”. While companies may be tempted to go on Twitter or Facebook simply because of perceived low barriers to entry, they must do so with a clear understanding of the real business investment. Obvious investment areas include the people who will manage your social activities as well as training staff in understanding how to most effectively use these tools. However, the biggest investment is actually in a clear business case.
This business case should answer at least three questions:
- 1) Brand Impact: How will your social activities enhance your brand story?
- 2) Customer Impact: How will it build your understanding of customers needs or enhance your relationship with existing customers ?
- 3) Investment Return: How will you measure the business impact?
I am especially thankful for Jeff Gerst, Director of Client Services at Spyder Trap for bringing this “free” puppy concept to my attention at last month’s Life Science Alley Community Breakfast. After a follow up conversation with Jeff, I was pleased to hear Spyder Trap has a track record of building effective social business cases. To learn more, check out this strong work they did for a jewelry brand called Chamilia. I especially appreciate the fact they started with a focus on driving sales through activating Chamilia’s audience and designed their engagement accordingly.
Just as there are no “free” puppies there are no “free” social tools. When using these tools companies must be aware of the required investments and develop a clear business case that justifies that investment. Furthermore, leaders must continually review the business impact of social media tools and adjust accordingly.
Image Source: Puppy vs Toddler Blog Post
When it comes to collaboration in today’s workplace the problem is not lack of tools. In fact, content creation expert Robin Good has compiled this comprehensive list of collaboration tools
that points to the exact opposite problem – too many tools.
Good complied a master list of 31 different types of collaboration tools with helpful links to each tool. Below are the number of different tools found in three key categories:
- Project & Task Management (e.g. Trello, Basecamp) – 73
- Web Presenting (e.g. Slideshare, Prezi) – 29
- Team Messaging & Collaboration (e.g. Slack, Yammer, Chatter) – 26
Over 70 project management tools and nearly 30 different tools for web presenting!
When we have so many tools designed to help us collaborate, it is no wonder we feel lost at sea when we attempt to work with our team members to achieve shared business goals. The key question is – how do we select the best tools for the job? That’s exactly the topic I want to address in this blog series called Foundations of Social Collaboration
“Transforming the Business through Social Tools“
Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, and Martin Harrysson
The folks at McKinsey have conducted a survey of 1,420 executives worldwide in an effort to understand how social media is transforming business. The results were interesting. While McKinsey clearly expected to find an impact on customer-facing processes, they did not expect that social could benefit other functions. But the data speak very clearly.
Some high points:
- 49% of the responding companies use social for recruiting and hiring
- 35% use social media for new-product development and/or R&D
- 33% use social media for talent management, development, and training
- 33% use social media for strategy development
- 32% use social media for IT management
Some of the areas where social media tools are not being used as readily:
- Order to Cash (10%)
- Risk management (12%)
- Financial planning and analysis (12%)
- Supply Chain Management (14%)
- Procurement (16%)
The one that surprised me was supply chain management. Given the systems being put into place to monitor the progress of an order through the supply chain, social seems a no-brainer way to keep groups in the loop about the progress of critical orders.
The article is a quick read with lots of charts. If for no other reason, the article is worth reading because it forces you to ask “what are we doing with social, and how much more could we do with it?”
In September 2014 I had the opportunity to speak to the US China Business Connections (UCBC)
group here in Minneapolis about Social Media in China. I focused on Tencent’s innovative mobile app called WeChat. My key point was – this app is a gold mind for on-line commerce and marketing in a market that must be understood, especially both those who want to leverage mobile tools for enterprise collaboration.
Since then, it has been remarkable to see the global recognition given to Chinese technology firms, including:
A Deeper Dive: What’s Not in the Headlines
However, it is far too easy to misread these kinds of headlines about Chinese technology companies. The danger is either being overly pessimistic (these companies are simply U.S. knock-offs that are going to take over the world) or overly optimistic (we’ve found the next growth stocks that will magically rescue the global tech industry).
For a balanced view we need to take a deeper look at what Chinese tech companies are doing that is innovative, especially as it relates to using mobile, social technology to drive collaboration. To that end, I want to highlight three of the key findings from previous blog posts:
- 2) Tencent, China’s Social Giant: An introduction to Tencent, the largest social tech company in China and one of the top 5 internet companies in the world. In addition, a basic overview of the company’s wildly popular mobile app, WeChat, which has over 400M users and is uniquely innovative.
- 3) WeChat – An Innovation Platform: A deep dive into what make’s WeChat so innovative. Not only does it incorporate unique user-friendly features like a walkie-talkie button, but it also can be used as both a marketing and commercial platform. In other words, it has the functionality of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Uber, Groupon and Paypal all in a single app!
Bottom Line: Ignore China at Your Peril
China can’t be ignored, especially If we want to understand where mobile or social platforms are going to add value for enterprise collaboration. Not only are these innovative tools being used by employees in their personal lives, but increasingly these same employees will come to expect innovative collaboration tools within their work places.
Before diving into practical tips on leveraging social media tools to connect with Chinese colleagues, it is important to break the Chinese technology sector into broader segments. At the same time, if tech savvy investors and managers want to fully understand how to gain full business potential from social media tools, they must have an understanding of the game-changing innovations coming from the poorly understood Chinese social media giant – Tencent.
A Picture of China’s Technology Sector
Early this year, the Wall Street Journal provided a helpful graphic that broke Chinese internet companies into 5 major categories and provided a graphical scale for their market cap. It is clear that the three most influential companies are Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu in the e-commerce, social media and search markets respectively.
Tencent: An Innovative Social Business Too Few Understand
Within this web of Chinese tech firms, Tencent sits atop the social media sector. In fact based market value analysis from Statista, Tencent is the world’s fourth largest internet company – behind only Google, Facebook and Amazon.
What is more, since this graphic was published in May Tencent’s market cap has grown to $160 billion dollars in August 2014. On-line gaming made up over half of Tencent’s August revenue numbers due to its suite of games that effectively engage players to the point of spending real cash to improve their on-line gaming. But Tencent’s “swiss army knife” is a social messaging app called WeChat (Wei Xin in Chinese) that acts as platform within which the tools 438 million users can not only spend money on cute stickers to share with their friends, but more importantly access an increasing number of value-added services.
Give WeChat a Test Drive
In the next post we will explore these value-added services in more detail, but for the moment take time to explore the WeChat world by downloading the app here and viewing this 3 minute introduction from the Wall Street Journal.