Harnessing the power of collective behaviors could be a winner with social media says Gartner

Harnessing the power of collective behaviors could be a winner with social media says Gartner

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"Social media is not an end in and of itself, it is an enabler," said Anthony Bradley, group vice president at Gartner. "Social media technologies are tools and, like any technology, it is how people use those tools that delivers enterprise results."

Mr. Bradley explained that through the use of mass collaboration at scales previously unachievable, social media technologies have greatly enhanced the business value of collective behavior. Gartner believes that examining key selected behaviors provides critical insight into how social media can deliver significant enterprise value.

Enterprises can employ these collective behaviors as the link between business value and social media technologies. They can use them to examine a target community and formulate new ways that people can interact to achieve enterprise value. By understanding the most prevalent technologies, collaborative behaviors, business use cases and business value for six collective behaviors, enterprises can more effectively plan for successful community-based social media initiatives.

Enable collective intelligence for operational effectiveness
Collective intelligence is the meaningful assembly of relatively small and incremental community contributions into a larger and coherent accumulation of knowledge. Enterprises looking to improve internal operational effectiveness through enhanced collaboration, especially around product delivery, customer service and creation of a corporate memory, should examine employing blogs and wikis.

Gartner’s research indicates that pursuing collective intelligence to achieve operational effectiveness is one of the most successful social media adoption trends. Furthermore, collective intelligence is one of the earliest and most mature patterns, meaning that skills and tool capabilities are relatively widespread, and success in this pattern is proven.

Employ expertise location for sales effectiveness
Expertise location involves specific expertise from the masses of people and among the often staggering amount of available content. Enterprises seeking to improve sales effectiveness should examine the potential of social networking to enable expertise location behaviors associated with product delivery, product utilization and customer service. Gartner’s research shows a strong CRM-related social media adoption pattern in employing social networks for expertise locations. It often involves the enterprise identifying a small number of customers or prospects out of the masses in the market who can assist in enhancing a product or service or in improving the customer experience.

Unearth emergent structures for operational effectiveness
Emergent structures are structures that are unknown or unplanned prior to social interactions but emerge as activity progresses. The goal of emergent structures is to gain insight into the true "nature of things" to more effectively organize, manage or interact with a community. Enterprises advancing their use of social media should explore emergent structures as a means to better understand how organizations actually behave and accomplish work. Emergent structures is a more advanced collective behavior and is relatively less mature. Once enterprises understand the value of social media and experience some initial success, then emergent structures become more appealing, and the chances for success are higher.

Increase sales through interest cultivation
Interest cultivation is the collecting of people and content around a common interest, with the goal of growing the community of interested people and increasing their level of engagement. Enterprises pursuing social media for brand awareness and sales effectiveness should employ social media to foster mass interest cultivation. Gartner has found that enterprises that have successfully facilitated interest cultivation have experienced stronger customer loyalty and increased customer engagement, leading to better brand awareness, increased customer feedback and increased sales.

Engage in mass coordination for rapid response
Mass coordination involves rapidly organizing the activities of a large number of people through fast and short mass messaging that is often spread virally. Early adopters of social media should examine mass coordination for rapidly coordinating a mass response to a significant event. Emergency response, search and rescue, sense and respond, political activism, marketing campaigns, and management of large programs are some appropriate scenarios for mass coordination. Gartner believes that by effectively employing mass coordination, enterprises can more rapidly marshal a powerful response to an important occurrence. However, mass coordination is an emerging collective behavior and comes with the risks associated with immaturity.

Build relationship leverage for brand awareness
Relationship leverage is the seemingly contradictory practice of effectively managing and deriving value from a huge number of personal relationships. Enterprises pursuing social media for brand awareness and sales effectiveness should examine the potential of the relationship leverage collective behavior. Enterprises that have successfully facilitated relationship leverage experience benefits in brand awareness and customer engagement and relationship leverage is often a cost-effective and lower-risk social media effort.

"Enterprises that understand the importance of harnessing the power of collective behaviors to drive positive business change will be the ultimate winners with social media," concluded Mr. Bradley. "Those that focus on implementing social media technologies will be the losers." More information is available in the Gartner report "Employing Social Media patterns for Business Impact: Key Collective Behavior Patterns." The report is available on Gartner’s website at

Visit Gartner at

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