Predicting the Diffusion of Social Media Technologies in Organization


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Based on 70 in-depth interviews, in which we spoke directly to executives and practitioners, and an in-depth survey of 1,050 companies on emergent social media strategies and practices, we see that there are four distinct approaches to social business strategy, each differing from the next depending on tolerance for uncertain outcomes and intended scale. First is a creative experimentation strategy. Creative experimenters embrace uncertainty, designing small scale tests to discover ways to potentially improve discreet functions and practices. Rather than focusing on an urgent business goal, they aim to learn. Second is a predictive practitioner strategy, which also limits the scale of its social business ambition to a specific area of the business like customer service or human resources. However, predictive practitioners try to avoid uncertain outcomes, always trying to deliver predictable results with established measures. Third is a social champion strategy, which also seeks to minimize uncertainty and deliver well-defined results. However, social champions’ efforts are large in scope and scale, often requiring careful global collaboration across multiple functions and levels of seniority. Fourth is a social transformer strategy, which aspires to innovate enterprise and culture. To do this, social transformers continuously learn from the unexpected in real-time, using previously invisible social interactions as the basis of strategy, decision making, and collaboration. We profile a best practice organization for each strategy to illustrate emerging design principles and decisions that prospective adopters will need to consider.

Academic Division

Technology, Operations and Information Management


Communication Technology and New Media

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