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Six Core Principles to Tap Harness the Power of Social Media

September 3, 2012

Many business and IT leaders tasked with executing on social media-based efforts do not place enough emphasis on the “social” aspect of community participation, according to Gartner.

Although numerous organizations have achieved social media success, failure rates are high because IT leaders and managers rely too heavily on social technology functionality and often miss the critical design concerns.

“Far too many social media endeavors are failing because the managers leading the efforts lack knowledge of the fundamental principles of mass collaboration,” said Anthony Bradley, group vice president at Gartner. “Business and IT leaders must understand the basic nature of mass collaboration and how to deliver on its unique value. Like never before, millions of people can simultaneously create content, share experiences, build relationships, and engage in other forms of productive work and meaningful activities.”

Bradley said that business and IT leaders shouldn’t assume that the social technologies automatically come with the needed mass collaboration built in. Mass collaboration must be designed and delivered as part of the social solution, and no social technology is great enough to save efforts that ignore or omit the fundamental principles of mass collaboration.

“When these efforts are omitted, people don’t view the social media environment as a place for them to meaningfully collaborate, and so adoption never really takes hold,” Bradley added. “Initial interest wanes quickly as community members realize that collaborating in the environment is too difficult. Participation lacks focus, and critical mass never materializes around a common cause.”

Gartner has identified six core design principles that distinguish social media from other approaches to communication and collaboration, and form the foundation for its mass-collaboration value proposition. Business leaders should apply these principles to shift away from a “provide and pray” approach to a motivate and engage strategy.

Participation: Getting Communities to Work for You
Collective: People Must Participate in the Effort
Transparency: The Community Validates and Organizes Content
Independence: Provides the “Mass” in Mass Collaboration
Persistence: Contributions Must Endure for Scaled Value
Emergence: Communities Self-Direct for Greater Productivity


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