Social Media’s Effects on Organizational Structure

As associations and others become more reliant on social business techniques, recent studies note that the impact of social media goes far beyond the tweet.

The only thing more popular than social media, it seems, is social media hype.

And that’s perhaps why some organizations miss the power that social business techniques can have if implemented at a granular level—and often struggle to make them happen organizationally. How can yours avoid the same fate? Here’s a roundup:

Don’t be in denial: According to a recent study by the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, many companies see social media as a fad, though the study says that’s a shortsighted way to look at things. “There is a lot of hype that goes along with technology,” said researcher Rob Ployhart. “After doing this review, I’m convinced that social media is radically different and that existing theories about communications can’t be applied the same way. It puts incredible power in the hands of employees and customers. One person sharing on social media is more powerful than 50 or more people saying it.” The executive briefing is available here [PDF].

Increased spending: And social media gets companies spending more, too. IBM’s new white paper, “The Business of Social Business” [PDF], notes that businesses as a whole have increased their investments in the social business sphere — 46 percent in 2012 alone. This will only continue to grow in the future, as 62 percent expect to increase their investments in the next three years.

Middle management’s slow reaction time: The IBM study notes that many employees have latched onto social business techniques but that organizations struggle to make them work across the enterprise. “At the most basic level, management must provide an infrastructure to enable employees to set up collaborative spaces,” the study says. “These systems need to be easy to access and use, executives told us. Many individuals will only adopt new approaches if they don’t have to spend significant time and effort mastering these tools.”

How social media affects IT purchasing: According to another recent study by Forrester Research, LinkedIn, and Research Now, social media is directly affecting information technology purchases in a way that many don’t fully appreciate. “Contrary to the common misperception that social media’s value for marketers is restricted to awareness,” the study says, “social networks are a critical source of influence across the entire IT purchase process. In each of the five phases of decision making, social networks influence nearly half of all [IT decision makers] involved in that phase.”

How has your organization used social business techniques to improve its reach and organizational structure?


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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