Following reading a great article: “Using a broadway show to explain the differences between social media and social business” I have just finished reading “The evolution of social business report from Altimeter group – part 1“.
And it’s all great stuff:
- “Link your social presence to business objectives” – Great.
- “Listen to customers to learn about their social behavior” – Great!
- “Foster employee engagement through enterprise social networks” – Now we are talking!
Although, Altimeter Group puts employee engagement at stage 3 of their 6 stage process to becoming a Social Business, at least they included it, which I think is a breath of fresh air in all the talks around Social Business.
People drive the success of Social Media efforts
Back when I started introducing Social Media to customers I used to say:
“People don’t want to go to an empty house, they want to go to a party!”
In other words, it is people who make a Social Media effort successful, not technology and not what we think.
Nothing new in this and this thinking is widely adopted now, but by “People” we tend to think “Customers”.
CEOs, Board Members and Managers are people too
Social Business efforts are no different from customer facing Social Media efforts. It is still the People who make the efforts successful. The difference is “People” are the employees.
It was this quote from the Altimeter report that got me thinking about this:
“One social strategist shared, “Many of our board members and executive leaders aren’t even on Facebook, so social media is foreign to them.”
How are you ever going to explain something as complex as Social Business to people who don’t even have a basic understanding on why the little buttons with “Like” written on them are important?
Setting up a Social Play Pen for can help educate employees in leadership positions to understand the benefits of Social Media and be able to confidently champion such initiatives when launched.
One solution could be to set up a Social Play Pen allowing employees of equal level to try out Social Media. For example a closed forum for the Board Members to chat about… well.. whatever Board members chat about. A place where they can speed-learn what the Digital Native generation is growing up with.
According to the Altimeter report, Dell listened to customers for 9 months before launching its Social Media presence. When companies do this, why not run an internal program to educate staff as well?
A workspace for both the ready and the resistant employees
All employees at all levels within an organisation can be mapped on a line ranging from the Social Media savvy who use Social Media privately to the people who have little or no knowledge of Social Media (other than it’s something their kids do).
However, common for all is: They have their daily job to do and neither want additional “stuff” to deal with.
Employees don’t want more to deal with, they want smarter ways to do the things they have to do already.
This is a very important point. It’s great having company wide strategies about becoming a Social Business, but will all this just add extra work to the workforce? Will it just give them more stuff to deal with and create more opportunities for confusion?
As Jacob Morgan writes: “One of the most common challenges I see with organizations that deploy collaborative platforms and technologies is the employee adoption rate.”
As Andrew Grill described in his article a Social Business consists of two parts: The customer-facing front visible to everybody and the “Back Stage” where the crew makes it all happen.
The “Back Stage” is the Social Workspace employees have to work in and it has to be a time-saving environment, not another time-drain. It has to provide:
- A global, coherent User Experience (See User Experience Design in a Social Enterprise Environment: Connecting the Dots)
- Single Sign On (I dread the day somebody measures the time wasted on having to log in again and again and again, forgotten passwords, resets, etc)
- Global and effective search (harder than it sounds, but a huge time saver)
- Relevant and up-to-date content (See Social Janitor article)
- Personal value for the employees and their career path (See Employee Brands)
If employees do not see the value in the Social Workspace it will not work.
They will either simply not use it, or even worse, launch their own grass root initiatives that will be isolated from the official efforts.
So make sure everybody is invited to an awesome party they all want to go to and reap the benefits of having become a successful Social Business.