After the digital divide – I see a new “social divide” and it is rapidly widening. Social media is not something you “install” and then have it. While it is a challenge for some businesses it may have some devastating consequence for individuals.
Social Graph & Presence Factor
It takes approximately 6 month to establish a decent “social graph” and presence in the social web. Within those six month many people give up make mistakes and start all over in another six month. In other words somebody who starts in the social web today will be savvy and have a valuable social graph no earlier than by end of the year. For some it may take a full year from now. One of the big mistakes people make is that they point to their LinkedIn profile and a “list” of connections as their presence in the social web.
The democratization of knowledge is a new dilemma. The “established experts” make way to who ever communicates fastest, loudest and with the largest number of followers (not twitter follower but follower of their direction). Today more people say “You have to grow the number of followers” than those who say “Focus on relevant people in your network”. More people say “Social Media is the new marketing channel” than those who say “Social Media is most successful as a cross functional customer engagement model”. The challenge is to identify the most successful way for an organization to create a sustainable success model. We experienced best successes with a model involving all market facing units in an organization – ending up with basically a homogeneous strategy for the entire company.
Role Model Factor
In the past, if a company installed CRM, ERP, Local Area Networks,… the company or their vendor heavily advertised the fact that they did. Not so in Social Media. Social Media is a powerful competitive advantage that those who figured it out won’t advertise it. The majority of companies are followers – following the market leader. But if the market leader is not promoting what they do – the followers will fall back more than ever before.
The vast majority of business education is still around traditional techniques. A business consultant or trainer was typically pretty successful 10+ years ago and is teaching their success model to others. There is only a microscopic small number of business relevant social media training institutes or consultants with both, sound business experience AND a profound social media background. Looking at the major sales training institutes: You won’t find them in the social web, some even require their trainer to NOT use social media at all (earth is a disk).
As such – the “social divide” will widen and the distance between market leader and follower will get bigger in the next two years. In most industries market leaders are heavily engaged in the social web while their B-Class competitors are still busy wondering if “the economy is coming back.
A devastating consequence
What is true for business organizations is equally true for individuals – with one very sad consequence: People who are employed in one of those slower moving companies who are ignoring the new customer dynamics may have it much harder to move to a new employer. And as companies may get acquired for their installed base – employees who just didn’t care about the social evolution may be the ones who are not making it in the new organization. Hiding behind a business strategy may work as long as the person is employed and the company is in business but there may be d-day and that may be a tough awakening. In a recent acquisition somebody I know pretty well was let go because her social graph and presence was way below average for the new company.