6 obstacles that prevent social business ROI

If you are in a larger business, I hope this article gives insight to why there are certain broken processes at both the organizational and market level.

It talks about the fundamental flaws that inhibit organizations from utilizing talent that can do amazing things for your organization.

It can be a little bit like space exploration

If we gauged the NASA program by the number of successful launches we’ve had,

the metric would be not only meaningless, but fundamentally broken.

 Defining the Real Problems

Here are six problems you will find in most organizations trying to grasp social media and digital business trends.

#1 – The evolutionary need

Business is constantly evolving.

We know something is out there and we need to discover it.

At the end of the day I believe that most companies are in a crisis: they understand that change needs to happen within the organization but they are also inhibited by multiple layers of internal bureaucracy and a limited view of external perspectives that are compounded by poor recruiting processes, a limited availability of “A players”, and a fear of the unknown.

#2 – The artificial silos

This isn’t about exploring something for the sake of exploration: it is about applying unknown benefits to tactical and strategic initiatives.

On top of those core issues, many executive teams have attempting to place elements like social media and search optimization into the marketing silo because they do not understand how evolving digital elements tie into customer care, sales process, employee engagement, human resources, and executive leadership.

Social business elements may have specific business impacts in individual silos, but it is rare that any social business project truly resides within any one departmental silo.

#3 – Internal Politics

Who is really flying this thing?

Few people within the organization operate outside of the departmental silo.

Executives typically perceive social media/social business roles to lay within the marketing channel. When the role is delegated to a hiring authority with in a specific silo we are faced with a challenge to ‘the way it is done’ and in many cases the hiring authority finds themselves speaking to someone who has skills that exceed their ability to comprehend benefits at the departmental level.

#4 – Market shift

In many cases organizations are not accelerating at the same speed as the market they serve.

Digital trends often act as ignition points for lumbering marketplaces. This ignition point is just like a rocket being ignited: a massive amount of fuel and energy has been amassed over time and when the thing finally ignites, it often shoots off at break-neck speeds in a nearly uncontrollable manner (*most executives panic when confronted with the need to manage something that is is perceived as being inherently uncontrollable.)

#5 – Mission Control doesn’t know where it is heading

Imagine having to build a rocket, figure out how it will work, train a team to fly it, determine a destination, and do it all blind.

If we think about NASA, how impossible would it be to have a shuttle launch if the ground crew, communications center, and flight team all have different vocabulary?

For most organizations this is the first time they have tried to build a rocket. For the other 95% of the organizations they’ve been trying to claim success by launching rocks into the sky. The larger the organization gets the more likely it is that there are dozens of people involved in a process of failure simply because job security is on the line.

#6- It happens really fast.

Once you’ve hit the button, prepare to experience everything you didn’t plan for.

Once you’ve been selected for the pilot’s seat, no one else can take control without causing a catastrophic problem.

Even if you’ve flown before, imagine solving problems one thru five only to realize you need to do it again: in less time, in another direction, at a bigger scale, with a hundred another competitors trying to shoot you down.

Project teams often lose sight of the necessity that a working solution needs to have the fundamental ability to scale, change direction, be cannibalized for parts, or completely abandoned when conditions change.

Where do these do these problems lead?
The elusive search for Return on Investment.

The above factors form one huge problem:  a project (or social business professional) must succeed or fail based upon the “return on investment” within one silo.

This means that they are forced to prove success/failure with little understanding of other silos, restricted marketplace insight, and at incredibly demanding speeds.

This creates a recipe for disaster where no one within the organization really knows what lost opportunities existed and how much it really cost the company.

 Example: if we know a social business project has 40% value in marketing, 30% value in sales, 10% value in customer care, and %10 value in everything else- a marketing director would be incredibly hard pressed to establish an effective ROI result based on 40% of the benefit.

They would be forced to look at other marketing options that operate on a 1% to 15% margin of difference, where the social business asset is allowed to only be weighed at 40% of its true value to the company.

If you can only score 40% – how can we find ROI?

The simple truth is that you can’t.

Even if you could prove that a social business venture in marketing was worthwhile, you would also be proving an ability to ignore 60% of your overall project value.

If you are interested in proving the ROI, make sure you are considering the real scale of your project.



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