Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Social Business - is your company ready with a supporting culture?

To continue the theme of talking about readiness to adopt Social Business, let's take a deeper dive into the culture element that was highlighted in the HBR article "Taking Social Media from Talk to Action".     "Many organizations seem to operate under old paradigms, viewing social media as one-way flow marketing messages, instead of capitalizing on the opportunity to monitor, analyze, and participate in the millions of conversations between consumers"    In my opinion, there are two main drivers to this:
  1. Companies are not listening to what is being said about them
  2. Employees are not given 'permission' to engage in a dialog with customers because the perceived risk is too high
In terms of listening, the HBR article points out that "...while more than half are using social media, only about one-quarter of users said they could identify where their most valuable customers are “talking” about them. And, less than one-quarter (23%) are using any form of social media analytic tools, with only 5% using some form of customer sentiment analysis."    Why is this?  You would think that companies could just buy an off the shelf listening capability.  However, it's not that simple.  This is an example of culture change that needs to start with long term commitment.  This commitment needs to include transformational changes including training, resource allocation, funding prioritization and on-going management focus.  While there is significant benefit to listening and engaging with your customers, it could be a bigger risk if you start down that path and then are not prepared to support your end of the conversation.  Listening is the first step to engagement.  Is your company ready to fully support all aspects of the response you will be sure to get?

To the second point above, let's say that companies have established a listening capability.  Typically, Social Media managers will monitor the conversations and route them to the appropriate employee for engagement.  Are your employees ready to engage (beyond the small number of external communications professionals)?  Have they been given 'permission' to speak on behalf of their company by their management?  Are they adequately trained?  Do they know where to go for help and support if required?  On the surface, this also looks easy ... but in reality it takes culture change. It requires trust and a willingness to accept risk (with appropriate mitigation in place like training).

It easy to leverage social within the boundaries of the old paradigm, but that's not Social Business.  It's a journey, but the rewards can be significant.

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