Even if you take all the generous media attention and coverage away, the social media wave seems to be certainly picking momentum. And I don’t say that just by looking at the number of sign-ups Facebook has each day or how many tweets get fired each second. That doesn’t really suggest an organization should invest in this new trend.

What seemed like a fad for college kids has soon made analysts, IT decision makers and vendors sit up and seriously explore various benefits of applying the concept to business contexts. Social media certainly seems poised to provide many benefits to organizations.

So is there a ROI for an organization from social media?

That’s exactly the question posed by Natalie Petouhoff in this thought provoking post discussing a tangible Return on Investment on Social Media for Online Customer Service.

If you want proof that there indeed is an ROI, I’d quote Natalie and say, ‘My gut says there is… but that hypothesis needs to stand up to testing’.

Although there are researched confirmations like this one, it’s probably still too early to start looking for proof of benefits .

But put your ear on the ground and listen carefully – you can hear the rumble building up.

And the rumble is approaching us from tens of different directions.

Here are a few that I can right away reel out

  • Technology Rumble: Look at how seemingly disconnected technology developments are converging – the big thrust by vendors to offer on-demand solutions, increasing availability of innovative technology driven services that allow people to share, collaborate and connect.
  • Recession Rumble: Look at how an unprecedented global economic phenomenon has forced a radical change in spending – and urged a shift in the way organizations assess IT options. Open Source, SaaS, PaaS, and so on.
  • Customer Mind-share Rumble: Look at how businesses are desperately looking for bigger value from customer interactions  and want to reach out to a wider audience, quicker and more directly – This is happening across multiple functions – Marketing, Customer Service, New Product Development, etc.
  • Social rumble: Look at how people are naturally warming up to a new collaborative way of working, of sharing information, of community bonding. Open Source software development, forums, wikipedia, and so on.

These are random off-the-cuff rumbles I could come up with. I’d like to follow this post up with more on those bullets. What are the other trends you notice?

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