Recent Social Media related articles have made me slightly nauseous. I’m a fairly sceptic sort of guy and I have great difficulties swallowing unsubstantiated fibs. Having said that, if evidence was to emerge, substantiating claims I previously rejected, I will be happy and willing to re-examine my position and adjust it accordingly. So, to summarize, although I am fairly sceptic, I’m also very much open minded.
I have made an elaborate effort, in past posts, to clarify the situation regarding the perceived rate of projects’ failure. This issue, alongside sporadic incarnations of the PM 2.0 claim, seem to have died out for now, a sign that the hype around them has somewhat dissipated.
The hype around ‘Social Media’ however seems to have only gained further momentum:
A recent article in HarvardBusiness.Org titled “Social Media’s Leadership Challenge” seems to suggest that a) Social Media contains a commercial promise; and b) For this promised to be realized, strong leadership with social media skills are required.
I’m not going to elaborate on how trivial the above statements are, as I hope that’s plain obvious. So I’ll move on to another component of that article where it states that “…one of the most interesting findings in our research is that adoption of social media doesn’t always add to the companies’ competitive advantage”.
I suggest you pause for a minute and let the above statement permeate in your brain, as what it suggests is that the hype cannot actually be substantiated and that, despite the books, articles and blogs hysterically promoting the Social Media concept, the real world is yet to be convinced.
Lo and behold, another article published in Social Media Strategy titled “But I Don’t Wanna Change” has the following to say:
“Whether we like it or not, social media has changed the way we communicate and interact with other people. For some that change has been exciting for others it has been exhausting, but for anyone engaged in social media, they have already accomplished one thing – they have changed their behavior.”
Please kick me if I got this thing wrong but who are we to determine that a change of behavior is a good thing? In fact if you told me that someone you know changed his/her behavior,the only thing I would be able to assume is that their current behavior is different to what it was before. No other value judgement could be applied as nothing in that piece of information was indicative of the nature of the change. Taking this one step forward, celebrating the fact that people have started engaging in Social Media is a premature celebration as it should be obvious to any thinking person (aka Homo sapiens) that Social Media could be used both in a positive and a negative way.
I’ve seen Social Media used in a ridiculously wasteful way, riding on the hype wagon, providing people with tools that distract them from their real jobs and reducing them to multi-tasking chatter machines.
Social Media (just like the PM 2.0 promise) is a collective term for a set of tools and technologies that could be used, if appropriate to address certain business problems. Just because some consultants (having finished promoting other buzz terms) have taken it upon themselves to adopt car-sales techniques and advice you of how great these tools could be for your organization, does not mean that you need to rush in and take their words for it. The fact is that “adoption of social media doesn’t always add to the companies’ competitive advantage” so be careful and do your math before you commit your IT budget to this cause.
Think about it!