Your social media initiative is hobbled - potentially even endangered without integration.
It's nearly impossible for a business to get the full value of a social media initiative in place without using some sort of Integration layer.
Note: Although originally intended to be part 5 of a 6-part series for business application vendors, I quickly realized that this topic was equally applicable to ISVs as well as to any commercial organization investing in social media.
Why is Social Media only half of the equation when it comes to a social media initiative? Any social media program worth its weight in salt needs to be tied into the business objectives of the organization - whether that's to increase mindshare, generate website traffic, create leads, improve customer service, whatever.
But without an integration strategy in place, it makes it extraordinarily difficult to measure and analyze the impact of a social media initiative. You can tweet and facebook all you want, but when the C-Suite wants to know what the return on the social media effort is, metrics like "followers, tweets, and likes" don't cut it.
In the absence of real metrics that are tied to business objectives (that are important to the C-levels), your social media initiative will be dominated by opinions, politics and personalities - and you will lose credibility in the process.
In order to tie social media metrics into things like conversion rates, cost per lead, etc., as well as capture trends, data must be captured, collected and integrated across a number of different systems - and then analyzed, hence the need for an integration strategy.
From a conceptual/visual perspective, this is depicted in figure 1, below, in a graphic that I've adapted from an webinar given by Birst (Business Intelligence/Analytics), Cervello (BI/Analytics Consulting) and SnapLogic (Cloud-based Integration), which discussed the ROI of Social Media Analytics (on-demand replay available)
With the demands placed on social media programs by internal customers and the executive suite, it's ever more critical to be able to integrate data across multiple systems to be able to make business decisions on marketing spend - as well as to justify marketing spend. Without a robust integration strategy, your ability to conduct an effective social media program will be severely degraded.