Social Media Mantra #112 Think Judy Garland


Reading Peter Kim’s post from yesterday, “The Plague of Plagiarism” was both enlightening and somewhat disheartening. As well, David Armano’s post How to Spot Social Media Snake Oil, had something to say about the same issue too, though just a tad bit more extreme in his  professional prism of trust.

But then I saw this, the 8 irresistable principles of fun and things were put back in perspective.  However there was one line from it that caught my eye and it was by Judy Garland-she was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and it was this:

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

Boy, does that resonate.

What’s wrong with social media?


If I told you I was going to offer you a job where you failed 70% of the time would you take it?  Probably not. What if I told you that I know of just that type of position where anyone worth there salt would kill to be a part of that organization.  Any clue yet? Its Major League Baseball. They pay their players millions of dollars per year to hit a baseball three out of 10 times.  That’s it just 3. The expectations of hitting it 4 out of 10 times are so unrealistic that it is barely mentioned in conversations. It’s rarified air.

If you close 3 out of 10 deals or you are supposed to sell 10 cars and you only sell 3, should you keep your job?

Anthony Bradley from Gartner has spent the past year collecting  social media cases. he’s collected 200 solid social media cases out of over 350 cases, in which he’s tossed out those that either were not really social collaboration, or were clear failures.

His findings?

  1. Cases with good ROI metrics are rare.
  2. Cases with well articulated business results are few.
  3. Cases with activity metrics are more common.

Ok that’s worrisome.

While his research indicates that if you measure success by business results, the failure rate is very high, If you were to measure success by adoption rates (social activity metrics), which is what a lot of social media folk seem to be zeroing in on these days, the failure rate is still high. So regardless of whether you are measuring business results or adoption rates- the failure rate is still high.

What the hell are these people doing?

Interestingly enough, one of his sources for cases was the social software technology vendors, and by a large margin this group could not articulate the specific business value their clients gained by using their products. I find this odd since this would mean that they essentially did not have a) a business plan or b) were never in it to make money or c) just didn’t really focus on that measurement thing.

Again, what the hell are these people doing? Better yet, maybe we should ask, what are we doing? We’re the ones using this stuff. Are we fricken freemium zombies?

Paying baseball players millions of dollars to hit a curve ball 3 times out of 10 I get. There’s a business plan in there. But are we as a group collectively just following the masses down the path not really knowing where we are going but content to just go with the flow? Developers and users alike? Why would they build social tools or nets that failed the majority of the time?

Are we ignoring the fact that failure might be the most common trait in social media?

I still cringe at the thought of the business plan that’s wrapped around ad revenues, but apparently Web 2.0 still seems to be pretty comfortable with that, and not much more. I would think that one would do everything in there power to reduce the odds of failing, but this data right now or what Bradley is asserting, just doesn’t support that hope.

I hope the data is flawed. because if it’s not, I guess we will continue to invest in and support failure. In an open and transparent fashion of course.

Share this Post