The 3 Functions of Social Media for ROI (Part II)

August 25, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   2 Comments


Understanding the 3 uses of social media enables organisations to outline a strategic development path and determine their objectives

Understanding the 3 uses of social media enables organisations to outline a strategic development path and determine their objectives

Innovation is all about the capturing ideas of value from the community, and nurturing them through the organization to their eventual commercial realization.

Whilst some ideas present themselves as unique business opportunities, many are initially wrapped in deep, frustrated emotions that come with nonsensical rules or unmet expectations. When confronted with such anger the natural human response is to defend at best or strike back at worst but for companies to succeed as innovators success can only be achieved through understanding the difficulty.

The way leaders respond to complaints sets the tone for the entire community. A positive response; and the community learns’ that their input is relevant and valued. A negative response; and people learn that their contributions are only valued if they fit what leaders want to hear.

Given innovation is often built on things that are not working, its hardly convenient.  But if the issues are received and responded to, through action or explanation, the community sees progression and momentum toward an easier tomorrow. Without visible development and progression communities become stagnant and the incentive to participate will drop.

The other important piece to realize about Innovation is that there is more to it than just creating a faster, shiner widget.

Innovation covers a variety of areas including: business models; improving the supporting processes to create or deliver the product or services and the way in which companies engage their customers. “Doblins 10 types of innovation” is a great summary of the scope of potential innovation from the corporate context. In fact Doblins is a pretty good summary of innovation in general; though after watching the emergence of the Arab Spring, there’s also room to include Political Innovation into the mix.


Figure 5 Doblin’s 10 types of innovation is a great framework for categorizing innovation types.

Whilst most people focus on Innovating faster, shinier widgets, Doblin tells us that the most value comes from the “Financial” end of the Innovation spectrum. New business models such as the sales of music through Apples i-tunes as compared to the traditional bricks and mortar record store have made billions and are a great example of “Finance” innovation.

Social innovation platforms include dedicated systems such as Innocentive and/or Spigit at the more sophisticated end, but also can be built using the most simple of wiki’s, online notice boards or social media tools… its really more about the process of gaining buy-in at the various innovation stages then it is about the technology.

Innocentive originated in the pharmaceutical industry and provides companies with the opportunity to outsource innovation.. Companies with seemingly insoluble issues, post their problems on Innocentive’s website and offer a cash prize for the best solution. Problem-solvers then collaborate and compete by posting their solution for review by the company.   The innovator with the solution deemed the most appropriate receives the cash payment.

Innocentive Figure 6 Innocentive uses a community of solvers to figure out problems and drive innovation

Spigit is another innovation platform originally built for enterprise innovation but later adopted to fit public social media platforms such as Facebook. Spigit builds an idea market place, much like a stock market, that uses gaming mechanics to encourage users to sort good ideas from bad and to incentivize the development of other potential innovations.


Figure 7 Spigit is an enterprise platform that uses market and gaming mechanics to incentivize innovation

Tweak shoes is another great example of innovation on social media, this time via Facebook. Individuals in the Tweak community put forward designs and colours of shoes they would like to see made which the community then votes on. This process continues until the community has designed their perfect shoe.  Tweak then has the shoe manufactured  in China and sells the style back to the same community that designed it.


The scope of innovation is diverse and can be as subtle as feedback on a negative customer experience, or obvious as a suggestion for a company’s next best selling product. In all cases Innovation must be supported by the structure of the business. Accountability, senior leadership buy-in and a defined ideation path across the innovation spectrum must be present for innovation to successfully navigate the organizational hierarchy.  If not it will fail.



by wardsco


Scott (31 Posts)

CEO Digital Infusions

2 Comments for this entry

    Marg Lucan
    August 25th, 2013 on 9:42 AM

    Brilliant article Scott. Most informative as always. Marg

      August 25th, 2013 on 6:10 PM

      Thank you for your support Marg 🙂
      Part 3 is nearly ready!

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