Business and social media tools

I was on the phone this am with a friend who does marketing for lots of big sports companies, talking about whether social media tools, which are clearly successful at driving engagement, can also be used to grow revenue and /or increase conversion.
“There just doesn’t seem to be any real money there,” my friend said. “Kind of like Second Life.”
At the same time as we’re having that conversation, I’m getting ready to lead a panel at WeMedia next week about social media and business–The premise there is that social networking, un-conferences, wikis and other web tools can not only strength communities but also build momentum for brands and causes–but their success depend on more than knowing how to use the tools from a tech perspective–what makes using SM lead to desired real world outcomes?
And finally, someone just sent me a link to a SIIA survey that reports on how businesses say they are increasing their use of social media and *Web 2.0* technologies.
Data points

  • 92% want to increase user engagement and loyalty.
  • Nearly 42% of respondents use networks like MySpace and Facebook
  • 50% have a blog, but only 15% felt that blogging was critically important.

Asked about issues, respondents said:

  • Problem is everyone uses different networks
  • Is there real, measurable ROI?
  • Need to balance the benefits against impacts on our brands
  • Reputation risk management
  • Barrier to entry: education and training both workforce and older audiences

This is an interesting question–how SN tools can benefit the business goals (as opposed to the brand goals) of companies who use them.
It’s clear there are powerful goals for individuals to use these tools in business, but who is doing the work of institutional integration and articulating value?