Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Social Media: What Is It And Why It's So Important For Any Organization

Why is social media so important? And most importantly, why should you and your company care about?

Photo credit: grki

In this article, web strategist George Benckenstein explains in very simple, non-technical words, what marketing experts and businessmen have failed to understand about the real value of social media for companies and institutions.

Social media is NOT a mean to deliver a superior experience to customers. That's the wrong way to look at it. Social media is simply a mean to get things done.

The essence of social media is in the group, the network of people which lies behind it. Well, these people are the best and most effective marketing agents you will ever find.

You have made a great new product? Give it out. Let people test it, give you feedback, criticism. That's what social media are for.

Finding yourself uneasy when thinking of exposing your product up for criticism in front of so many people?

Think again.

If you want to buy a new car you are not going to buy what car-makers tell you in their ads, right? You probably ask advice and suggestions to your friends and listen to their car recommendations. How much they like it, whether it is comfortable, issues about the brakes they have heard about, and so on.

In the Flat World evangelized by George Benckenstein, people are not anymore subjected to what companies tell them to like or buy.

Social media has given everyone the possibility to easily talk to each other, to exchange opinions, while getting rid of all the corporate hype and false promises typical of brand advertising.

Here a concise, clear and focused view on why social media are so important for today institutions.




Social Media vs Institutions


by George Benckenstein

So you think you've heard every perspective there is about and why companies should take notice? Think again.

What I hope you understand after reading this is the true importance of social media and why most companies don't have a clue as to what it means for their business, customers, employees and their competitors.


Do You Deliver a Superior Customer Experience?

Download the full study here (PDF)

The answer would be NO. Chances are your company is NOT delivering a superior customer experience. So is this what's important about social media? The answer is... Partially.

Now take a moment to consider just what comes between a traditional institution or organization and its customers.

  • You have a business with all the internal barriers that exists in all companies.
  • Now you have traditional media to communicate with your customers.
  • You rely on interruptions and disruptions to message to your clients and potential customers.

Is it any wonder businesses are disconnected from their customers and their experiences?


So What The Hell Does This Have To Do With Social Media?


Social media, or let's say the platforms created to support it, have created a slight paradigm shift (well maybe a bit more than slight). In order to understand the enormity of this shift, you have to start looking at this phenomena a little differently - from a holistic point of view.

This new dynamic has created an environment where communication, collaboration and coordination exist without barriers. It gives power to individuals to compete with institutions at a level unprecedented. Institutional containment as we know it does not exist. Market barriers no longer exist as we know it.

Let's think about social media thru another lens. Let's look at it around "coordinating effort" or, from the basis any institution is created which is, getting things done. This is what's important about social media.

Institutions and organizations are wondering what to do about social media. Policies are being written, consultants are being brought in to figure out how it can be used as a marketing channel.

Companies are missing what's really important about social media and the platforms that support it - and here it is.

Cooperation cost is the economic burden of coordinating effort. Traditionally, the solution for coordinating effort was to create an institution.

More recently, since the cost for people to communicate with each other has fallen thru the floor, many are rethinking the system in which people communicate, collaborate and coordinate. A great example of this is found on social networking platforms - platforms where coordination and communication are designed into the system. Systems that allow group output without regard to traditional institutional models.


Looking At Things In New Ways Is Hard To Do


So what does this mean for the traditional institutional model? It means that business leaders have to get comfortable with reviewing something very core - their original purpose - their existence.

In the end, I really think there are only 2 choices:

  1. Embrace and leverage communication, collaboration and coordination platforms. Institutions and individuals alike all have access to a world of new opportunities. This is difficult because it requires us to forget what we think we know and look at our circumstance dispassionatly and objectively. It will also require us all to get involved and learn. You can't fake this.
  2. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. You might make the connection to the K√ľbler-Ross model's 5 discrete stages of how people come to terms with dying. This is how many institutions and organizations will come to terms with these new, communication, collaboration and coordination platforms.

So here we are. This is happening.

The ultimate importance of the web is coming to fruition. It's the ultimate communication platform. It gives institutions the power to outdistance their competition by breaking down communication barriers between their employees, their customers and their suppliers.

We all have the power to create personal networks to coordinate effort and accomplish anything.

Thomas Friedman said "what can be done, will be done." There is nothing standing in our way. Let's get busy getting things done.


Additional Resources On Social Media

Originally written by George Benckenstein for his blog, and first published on April 28th 2009 as "Social Media vs Institutions"

About the author


George Benckenstein is a web strategist with lots of experiences as a marketing director and consultant. He's currently manager at and Administaff Inc. George Benckenstein blogs at

Photo credits:
Looking at Things in New Ways Is Hard to Do - Gunnar Pippel
All other images by George Benckenstein

George Benckenstein -
Reference: George Benckenstein [ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
blog comments powered by Disqus
posted by Daniele Bazzano on Wednesday, May 20 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




Real Time Web Analytics