With the appropriate roadmap in place, a business can start simply, and move on from there. Often, the first step is to monitor and listen. While a great deal of online chatter exists, many analytic tools are available to cut through the clutter and help inform what is being said about a company, its products, competitors or even about a category of products and services. This can even be narrowed down so that one can understand what customers are saying or experiencing.
The most important step on the social business journey is the engagement in two-way conversations and collaboration across boundaries. To do this well it is helpful to have both a content strategy and a governance strategy. Without clarity, the wrong messages may be communicated and ones brand might be damaged. Employees need guidance on how they should engage externally on social networks and how they should represent the brand or company they are affiliated with. Enterprise social networks such as Yammer and IBM Connect allow employees to work with each other across silos or physical distances, but without clarity around expectations, these networks might be sorely underutilized.
While many social initiatives start in one function, typically marketing, a truly social business has a culture that values collaboration at its core and includes all functions. In addition, innovation comes from outside the organization as well as within, and customers and partners are included in many key decisions and processes. Most organizations are a long way off from achieving this state.
It is difficult to change a business that is currently working well. But, given the increased prevalence of social technologies in our daily lives, the impact on media habits, politics, commerce and communications, most businesses will not have an option. They will need to figure out how to adapt these technologies so that their businesses can reap the benefits of the hyper-connected business environments they operate in.
The Social Thing to Do
This does not mean businesses should blindly put in Twitter feeds or Facebook pages since they are the social thing to do. Smart business leaders will focus on rethinking their business models, establishing specific goals and metrics, and figuring out how to best integrate social technologies in their business processes. Without looking at the broader context and developing the appropriate roadmaps and strategies, the misguided will be in danger of building the proverbial school for students who have no time to attend. By asking the right questions, fixing the right problems and doing some planning, this can definitely be avoided!
Other articles by Andrea:
Rethinking Customer Engagement
The True Value of Data
Context is Key to Customer Engagement
How Important is Defining Your Digital Identity?
Making the Leap to Small Business
Extend Your Social Reach
Social Media Prep
Andrea Goldberg, Ph.D., is president and founder of Digital Culture Consulting, LLC, and an expert in market intelligence, social media and change leadership. Reach Andrea at [email protected].