There's been a lot of talk about social media's vast promise for business, but where are the deliverables? Sure, virtually all businesses are on Facebook and Twitter, and everyone knows that in theory, at least, social-media tools can give companies direct access to customers and an opportunity to learn about their likes, dislikes, and desires. A number of corporations have become adept at using social media to geotarget customers, customize messages, and even communicate with individual consumers. And no marketing or reputational campaign would be complete these days without likes and tweets.
But what about social media's supposed power to change the way businesses innovate? Create strategy? Interact with employees?
That kind of progress may not be obvious, but evidence of social media's real promise is cropping up in all kinds of businesses, from knowledge companies to manufacturers to retailers. As corporate leaders develop a deeper understanding of social media's power, online interactions are becoming a rich resource. Some organizations are setting up listening posts to track customer sentiment. Others are creating collaborative environments for employees. Still others are learning how social media can boost sales.
During the next few weeks, HBR.org will investigate social media's value to all parts of your business, from strategy creation to recruitment to stakeholder engagement. For starters, innovation expert John Seely Brown writes about social media's role in transforming business; Roy Bahat, chairman of game-console maker OUYA, will show how social media is changing the way businesses recruit and hire; Raj Agnihotri of Ohio University will discuss social media's impact on the world of B2B sales. And that's just for starters.