This report on “Social Media and Advocacy” has generated quite a bit of buzz, with posts on TechPresident and elsewhere. It ranks more than a hundred big trade and advocacy associations on their use of a number of social media tools. Many have adopted very few, and hence score low. Only ten organizations use half or more of the tools discussed.
So far, so good–but what does that mean? It means opportunity, certainly for social media consultants who can help those who want to move “up” the list, and perhaps for the organizations themselves too.
While the survey is a useful overview, very little seems to follow from the rankings, in my view. Several people have pointed out that high scores in the report do not necessarily correlate with high visibility online (see for instance Morningside Analytics‘ take).
Simply plugging “adopt, adopt, adopt” when it comes to social media seems to be like going back to the mindset of the initial corporate adoption of ICTs–just hire a bunch of “those people”, and let them do “whatever it is they do”, without really wondering why. In the long run, it might help, but then again, in the long run, we are all dead.
A trickier question is how social media use square with the various first principles and instrumental strategies of these very diverse big organizations in their day-to-day work–many of the ones ranked are industry lobbies, after all!
How relatively valuable are social media, when the agendas pursued so often are special interests? What do the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (scored last, using zero of the tools in question) really have to gain from adopting all these new technologies? Visibility? (do they want that?) A way to engage their constituency? (is there one?) Aren’t they actually better off just plying their trade in relative secrecy, as interest organizations are wont to do? And isn’t it then up to those who might want to fight them to bring them out in the more open terrain created by social media?