For Business, Social Networking is 90% Bovine Waste Matter


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I’m not talking about all “social networking.” Right now, we’re working with a global e-tailer that found us on Linkedin. Their customer experience lead, a black belt also well-trained in LSS and Lean, found us by reading some very challenging, Outside-In discussion threads regarding why LSS, Lean and Six Sigma deliver underwhelming benefits when applies to improving customer experience (actually, in Six Sigma’s case, virtually no benefits). Linkedin is a valuable resource, if you understand how to use it. But I’m talking about Twitter, Face Book, YouTube and the rest of the “bird feathers” on the web. And frankly, I’m getting tired of specious arguments claiming they’re invaluable and “necessary for survival” business tools.

For example, I read one recent post validating its message by citing “research” on the effectiveness of social media conducted by publisher Hill & Knowlton and PR agency Weber Shandwick. Sorry, but on a scale of 1–10, the research credibility of the two combined is a minus 7. If you’re going to cite “research,” first make sure it is research.

So here’s a challenge to everyone up here extolling the value of social media. How about some hard facts? I don’t give a rip how many people go up on Twitter or Face Book or You Tube. I want hard examples of real revenue produced compared to the time spent jerking around up there. Traffic doesn’t mean squat. Actions triggered tell the story, and reading what people are posting about social media, there’s no story.

I get the PR ramifications of derogatory messages buyers leave up there. What happened to Sprint when they decided to fire customers calling customer service too often (usually because Sprint couldn’t/wouldn’t correct their invoice) is a classic example. But nothing Sprint could do on social networking could have bailed them out – in fact such efforts would have poured gas on a wild fire. The answer was treating customers respectfully in the first place, and perhaps a well publicized “wea culpa” along with firing the culprits, not trying to Tweet over customer malfeasance.

Please, if you’re going to post up here trying to snag readership by invoking “social media,” have some true facts and true research to support your argument. And until you can provide that, I know I speak for many requesting that you cut the hype.


  1. Here is a list of supposed SNM wins.

    But I have not been able to confirm most of them, and others show how big companies can leverage their existing brands and operations. I’d be mighty interested in a solid ROI case study.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I’d classify these as “the 10% exception factor.” We ourselves attracted a global consulting client via social media, so I’m with you. But most of what I see from companies is continuing to try to manipulate customers and customer opinion – only using a new media.


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