A world-class social business should be built upon three pillars – people, process and platforms (or technology).
The people of the organization (employees, leadership) are the core of social business transformation. The requirement here is simple. Organizational change needs to be a core focus for there to be any movement or shift in behaviors. Everyone, yes everyone needs to change and adapt the way they work, communicate and interact with each other behind the firewall. It’s not easy and sometimes it’s painful. But it has to happen.
Too often we forget that change needs to happen internally first before we can expect anyone else in the organization to follow. In other, words, if I expect my team to change the way they communicate with each other, I have to first change the way I communicate with them. It’s like the manager who preaches work life balance yet emails his team at 1:00 in the morning expecting responses by 8. Nothing will ever change with this type of flip flop behavior. It’s a valuable life lesson well beyond the “social business” conversation. Just ask any parent, coach or teacher.
This means that the business leaders have to do more than just say, “hey, we are a social business” but actually exemplify the behaviors they are preaching to the rest of the organization. In other words, they must:
- Increase their level of financial investment for social programs (internal/external)
- Start communicating to the organization differently (Chatter, Yammer or an internal blogging network)
- Write their own external blogs, tweets – no no no ghost writing (it’s 2012 already)
- Hold teams accountable for collaborating with other teams and transferring knowledge
- Trust their employees through action and not just words
There are many truths to change management but here is the most important. Behaviors travel across the organization through copying and imitation. And when business leaders change the way they work and communicate, it’ll spread like an epidemic.
And when the epidemic does spread like a virus, good things will happen. It will result in employees collaborating internally, sharing best practices and building their social proficiencies in a safe place. Trust among employees and leadership will also give birth resulting in the explosion of innovative ideas that would otherwise be lost behind the firewall sitting in an inbox or SharePoint site somewhere.
Employees should also be given the opportunity to engage externally with customers and partners. Research shows, specifically by the Edelman Trust Barometer that community members place a high degree of trust with “employees of a company” and “people like themselves.” This is imperative to maintain an open and trustworthy reputation as well as build customer advocacy. The caveat is that employee engagement and enablement needs to be grounded in a comprehensive governance and process model.
Process will help operationalize social media initiatives and provide a strategic plan that will:
- Operationalize content sharing across geographies and teams
- Govern employees’ use of social media externally
- Provide a consistent measurement framework
- Drive adoption of social tools internally (chatter, communities)
- Train employees to use social media effectively
- Identify potential crisis issues and escalate them quickly
- Govern the creation of new social media embassies (channels, geographies)
Technology is key, as it will facilitate the collaboration internally. The right technology will also help identify specific, and relevant conversations happening in the market place and identify influencers that are driving the conversation. It will also provide a scalable and efficient way to engage with customers.
Technology considerations will include the following:
- Online monitoring platforms
- Social CRM
- Web analytics
- Communities (both internal & external)
- Social Relationship Management (i.e. content publishing)
- Advocate management platforms
The connective tissue that connects people, process and technology is value; and the sum of all of these components working together is value creation for the entire stakeholder eco-system.
Customers and partners deliver value to the brand by buying their products which naturally results in revenue, market share, etc. Additionally, they are providing value by indirectly selling their products via customer advocacy. Product feedback also plays a crucial role in this value exchange.
Value is then reciprocated when the brand engages with customers/partners in real time by providing meaningful content like solving customer issues, sales support and also providing discounts on products and services.
Internally, value is demonstrated by enablement – allowing the brand and the way it communicates to scale social media operations efficiently – content, engagement, and measurement, etc. This involves internal teams working together co-creating, innovating and communicating more effectively with each other. Value is then fed back into the organization via product innovation, process improvement; and employee morale skyrockets because employees and teams played an active role in creating something. And this is probably the most important part of the entire value exchange.