It’s quite remarkable when you go to a ‘social media’ branded conference like Dreamforce and the vast majority of attendees are dressed in suits. It’s a sure sign that social media is going mainstream.
You have to hand it to Marc Benioff and his crew. He has created a vision that other business executives can buy into and see as an essential step to stay relevant in our times. Facebook and Twitter have excited the masses, but Salesforce (and ancillary offerings) have grabbed the imagination of the corporate decision makers and is accelerating social media adaption right through business. That is a very good and encouraging development …. as long as everybody involved knows that implementing Chatter and Salesforce is only one step in becoming a social enterprise, as most companies – especially in the B2B market place – haven’t evolved from sales to market led yet, from the 4Ps to the 4Cs, let’s alone to a company that puts people at the heart of every action – be it externally the customer or internally the employee.
At the same time, it is a very good and encouraging development as long as everybody involved knows that by implementing Chatter and Salesforce they let the Genie out of the bottle: There is no turning back, even if the decision makers don’t like the resulting consequences.
Therefore as a first step, I would advise companies to decide on how social they actually want and can become, to imagine the consequences of their decision, and run through a couple of scenarios:
Just imagine a company would launch Chatter and then nobody uses it. What then?
Let’s say it takes off:
- What are the effects on the decision making within the company?
- What is the impact on the company culture?
- What is the impact on its communication?
- What happens if it is only a few people using it extensively and shaping the entire debate?
- Who are the influencers?
- How can they be included into non-social media environments to spread the word in the social media world?
- What happens if a manager doesn’t like his staff to use internal and external social media and therefore hinders adoption?
Becoming a social enterprise requires a shift in perspective – employees and customers are becoming citizens. They know that they have rights and responsibilities and they want to be treated accordingly.
Becoming a social enterprise requires trust and transparency – your employees are your best brand ambassadors, your best marketers and your best recruiters; every single one and with every single interaction. So, to delight our customers we first need to delight out employees.
Becoming a social enterprise requires rock solid values and a clear vision – lived by the employees in every interaction day in and day out, not imposed from the top down but communicated from the top through behaviour and reinforced through communication in the physical world. Social media is only one layer of the social enterprise.
Becoming a social enterprise requires new roles, new skills and new structures that help to reinforce the transition to a social enterprise and at same time puts a higher value on social media engagement. Kodak employs a Chief Listening Officer and a Chief Engagement Officer. Other companies employ internal community managers. To become a truly social enterprise, to show the commitment, to make the real move, a company needs to show it is serious. Creating these roles and linking social media to the overall business objectives is another significant and important step.
Becoming a social enterprise requires understanding and participation in social media – it was surprising how many people, even speakers at Dreamforce, only had a token account on Twitter. We are at such an early stage that involvement is requisite to understanding.
Becoming a social enterprise is a journey and requires all of us to learn along the way, to remain curious and collaborate to a bigger extent, because as tomorrow’s post reveals, Social Media is impacting everything.