In this part of the series (Part 1; Part 2) I will be discussing another major piece of the social media for business puzzle. We have lots of businesses that approach us “wanting to do social.” Here is the thing, a business will never be successful at the use of social technologies to achieve business objectives unless the business first becomes a social business.
That is often not what those wanting to “do social” want to hear and it’s at this point where the separation happens between those who are truly serious about doing this right and those who just want to “add social” and then tick that box. It comes as a huge surprise to many that “doing social” has nothing to do with Facebook Pages, Twitter Accounts and viral YouTube videos!
Becoming a social business requires a cultural shift inside the organization and that is the hard part. Once that bridge is crossed, once everything has been put in place to create that shift, the rest pretty much falls into place and you can begin thinking about “doing social” primarily because you now are social. For emphasis: you can’t successfully use social technologies without first becoming a social business.
In my experience a giant leap in the right direction is made when a business breaks its reliance on email as the primary means to communicate internally. So a good place to start is to introduce collaboration software into your work flows. In our case we use Yammer extensively. Basically this provides a real-time communication environment which allows us to collaborate and share information much more efficiently than with email. (Another very good example of this kind of software is Salesforce’s Chatter.)
Getting your team comfortable to communicate internally in real-time is an important step in the right direction. Research has, however, shown that companies that successfully use social media have also done the following before turning on an external social presence:
- Created social media policies that protect the company and allow employees to participate on social networks responsibly
- Put a clearly defined process in place to ensure real-time responses to inbound communication
- Developed an ongoing education programme to ensure teams stay up-to-date in a rapidly changing environment, and
- Put in place a Social Media Team who’s responsibility it is to make sure that what the business does is properly co-ordinated both internally and externally and that policies and guidelines are adhered to and that the whole initiative keeps moving the business closer to its objectives.
The complexity of this whole process is often underestimated. Changing a culture and doing the necessary preparatory work and training cost time and money. The benefits of giving this due diligence will pay off and will minimise the risks associated with social media in a business setting.
In Part 4 I will discuss the next piece of developing a social media strategy for your business which is developing what I like to call a “Listening Room.”
Peter du Toit
Peter is the co-founder of Social Media IQ, a social media strategist, exceptional speaker and certified coach who specialises in developing social media strategies for companies in order for them to stay relevant in this fast changing world.