In my opinion there are greater possibilities for using social media and communities within your organisation than their are in more traditional social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. However research shows that organisations that are successfully deploying these tools are very much in the minority.
Social business success probably falls into the same bucket as any other kind of major internal change project in that success rests on the emotional attachment employees have with their employer. At the end of this post I’ll outline 5 steps to achieve social business success, but first lets explore this issue of emotional attachment first.
So many social business projects fail because they focus solely on the technology and the tools to be employed. Without achieving emotional capital however it’s very unlikely that the project will achieve the best results. Lets look at the so called four pillars of emotional capital:
The Four Pillars of Emotional Capital
Authenticity – This is the bedrock of your community. You need employees to believe in the authenticity of the leaders of both the community and of the business. Without it you won’t have the foundation to build your social business. Social media can help to build this provided that when executives use the tools they provide a consistent message and approach as when they communicate in the offline world. You can’t talk about the importance of community for instance when you’re laying off employees en masse, or of the crucial role innovation will play if ideas are quashed on a regular basis. It really is simple. Match what you say with what you do (oh and write what appears under your name – no ghost writers!).
Pride - I wrote recently about the amazing power simply saying thank you to your team has. People tend to feel pride when they feel appreciated and supported. It’s all of the intrinsic motivators that so often get relegated behind the extrinsic ones. Think about how you can thank your best people in creative ways using social media.
Attachment – Remember those brand values you probably have scattered about the office? This is where those come in handy, because the third pillar exists when employees share values and interests with the company. It’s important to remember here, that off topic conversations via your communities can go a long way to developing this attachment, so don’t dismiss them as being a ‘waste of time’. I’m sure you can imagine employees meeting after work for a shared interest also discussing shop whilst they’re there. Another easy win is with personal development. All of us have an inbuilt desire to learn. Show you share that and offer endless opportunities to learn and progress.
Fun – This is something that so many organisations get wrong. Fun shouldn’t be defined by forced set piece events a few times a year, but it’s crucial if you want to be innovative, as fun translates into the feeling of safety and security that are so important to the generation of innovative ideas. Leaders can emphasise this by poking fun at themselves. Not only does this highlight that the social business should be enjoyable, it also makes leaders more approachable, thus improving internal communication.
So, how can you use these four pillars and build a truely social business? Follow these five steps and you’ll be well on the way (you’ll notice that technology isn’t mentioned once – take the hint!).
5 steps to social business success
- Identify community leaders that have authenticity and trust to champion and lead the project. These people don’t have to have technical social media skills as that can come later.
- Once you’ve identified these social leaders, train them so they have the technical skills to transfer this to your community.
- Ask them to lead communities that build emotional capital. You want them to emphasise each of the four pillars mentioned above.
- Start small. Rather than rolling out dozens of tools at the outset, try rolling out one or two instead. Your first aim should be to build emotional capital. Complex social networking tools can often wait until later.
- Manage your expectations. You can’t expect major changes such as improvements in morale or knowledge sharing until the emotional capital has been established. You have to walk before you can run.
If you get each of these things right then your social business endeavour should achieve some fantastic results.