So what are the benefits?
- From the company's perspective, the ability to empower every employee to be the 'voice' of your company's brand is very powerful. Think about it ... it's an opportunity for the company to benefit from the personal and professional networks of every employee. It provides a transparent vehicle to demonstrate the expertise of employees through interaction, which goes beyond typical marketing and advertising.
- As an employee, it provides an opportunity to build their personal eminence, and be recognized outside their company. This could have benefits for their performance rating in their current job. It also provides a mechanism to make them a marketable skill for their next job, and provides an on-line resume if they were to get terminated by their current employer.
How about the risks?
- In order to fully realize the value, companies need to have a high level of trust of their employees. There is certainly a risk of one employee speaking unfavorably of the company, or behaving inappropriately in social conversations. If this employee is influential, this activity could have negative effects on the brand. There is also a risk of employees not being able to answer questions from a key current or future customers. Another risk often discussed is the risk of loosing key talent to competitors.
- Some employees may perceive this activity as an invasion of privacy. Often, it's difficult to keep you professional and personal persona's separate. How much information do I want to share about my job with my network? What happens if I say something wrong?
This You Tube video summarizing the Forum on the Future of Leadership has some some terrific insights here I'd definitely recommend you taking 5 minutes to take a look. One of the quotes from Jamie Dimon (CEO, JP Morgan Chase) is both comical, but true: "I was in a meeting the other day where we were going through Twitter and Facebook ... we have all these laws and restrictions ...I said to them ... if we invented the phone today, we would not be using it for 20 years...because you guys would be saying ... oh ... information is going outside the company... people are saying what ever they want, and you can't control it ..."
The point here is that the value of participating will far outweigh the risks. The risks identified today are driven by today's culture. Companies need to change their culture to trust their employees, to open lines of communication and encourage dialog. That's when companies and employees both will see the benefits of becoming a successful Social Business.