Although social networking technologies are employed by 70 percent of organisations, only 10 percent are successful at using them as most take a "provide and pray" approach, says analyst Gartner.
Gartner studied the social collaboration initiatives taken by 1,000 organisations around the world, and found the poor 10 percent success rate.
"Without a well-crafted and compelling purpose most social media initiatives will fail to deliver business value," said Gartner analyst Anthony Bradley. "A provide and pray approach provides access to a social collaboration technology and prays something good comes of it, like a community forming and participants' interactions naturally delivering business value."
Bradley said: "This approach sees a poor success rate and the underlying reason is usually that the organisation did not provide a compelling cause around which a community could form, and be motivated to provide their time and knowledge. In other words, a purpose was lacking."
Gartner has identified some characteristics of a good social networking roll-out:
Participant magnetism - The purpose should naturally motivate people to participate. This is the "what's in it for me" characteristic. Users should easily grasp its importance and the value of participating.
Community draw - The purpose must resonate with enough people to catalyse a community and deliver robust user-generated content. The best communities are heavily unbalanced in their two-way approaches, meaning that the community contributes far more content than the supporting enterprise.
Organisational value - The purpose should have a clear business outcome. This is the "what's in it for the organisation" characteristic. Choose purposes where organisational value can be clearly measured and shared with the community.
Promoting evolution - Select purposes that you and the community can build on.
Gartner analysts will examine how enterprise architecture can help deliver successful business outcomes from social, mobile and cloud platforms at the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit in London on 14-15 May.