Any social media initiative an organisation undertakes needs strategic direction, most often starting with addressing the question, “What problem are we trying to solve?” Answering, even just posing, that question helps move an organisation along a long way. The range of social media options open to organisations is vast—having an end-point in mind will help the organisation keep its head when the transformation process gets underway and the requirements for an agile and adaptive approach are making heads spin.
Hinchcliffe and Kim in their excellent book, Social Business By Design: Transformative Social Media Strategies for the Connected Company, [order it through Dymocks] delineate the top-level elements of social business design; here’s a synopsis:
- Culture change. Encouraging employees to think about their processes and interactions as much more open, participative and community-based than in the past is the goal. Most often success in this endeavour is found when high-level management work with a community management team on a change management program.
- Executive leadership. Research has shown that the attitudes and behaviours of managers are key parts of the early process. Poor attitudes and decisions, leading to poor actions by managers almost always scupper any chance of program success.
- Strategic goals and roadmap. The organisation’s senior management need to clearly identify and establish a vision and objectives. This leaves the way open to build a description of how to get there, even though the journey will invariably take detours and end up at the planned destination via a different route than originally conceived.
- Business process redesign. In order to reach the destination, the way business is currently conducted will have to change. Some of these changes will be identified at the start of the project, and some will only emerge as the project progresses.
- Risk management. There is risk in both undertaking a social business design and risk in not—Toyota and BP inadequately responded via social media during their respective crises and exposed themselves to risk. Understanding the risks inherent in all facets of action and inaction, derived through a due diligence process, is an important early step to any social business program.
- Social business solutions. The tools of social media are both well established and constantly changing. For example, Facebook seems to have been around for ever and will continue to be so; Pinterest came out of nowhere, as did Vine but both have cemented themselves a place in the social business lexicon. Undergirding all of these tools is the knowledge that they could be replaced at a moment’s notice by a new player not yet formed.
- Social business intelligence. Once the ‘how’ is being enacted and social platforms are being utilised, the experiences, understandings and sentiments of the participants needs to be captured and analysed for the wealth of insight and knowledge that lies within. It is from here that ROI will be determined, effectiveness can be measured and KPIs tracked. Difficulties can be identified, opportunities uncovered and progress towards the overall goal monitored.
One of the clearly-identified findings of social business research is that a program needs to have clearly identified goals but a flexibility about how they will be achieved. The ‘how’ will quite often not be the same as original assumptions and expectations, so, for example, word your goal statement with flexibility in mind.
|Instead of saying this||Say it like this|
|“Incorporate social media to cost-effectively amplify outbound marketing”||“Employ social media to increase customer engagement levels while lowering costs”|
|“Add social media to the intranet so that workers can more easily share information and collaborate”||“Provide an environment where workers can more easily participate with each other and their stakeholders”|
|“Improve customer care with an online self-help community”||“Apply social media in new ways to increase customer satisfaction and lower support costs”|
Hand-in-hand with the flexibility required in choosing your social platform comes oft-seen serendipity when employees and stakeholders take hold of offered new forms of self-expression and create and recreate new processes, solutions, products and outcomes. Rarely can these benefits be seen or predicted at the outset of the project, but research shows they are a startling and oft-found happenstance that occurs when organisations let go of control of the interactions of employees and stakeholders and instead let the two groups feed off each other’s ideas and inspirations.
This disruptive force for good is an ongoing part of social business transformation, and should be expected to be a permanent part of the business process re-engineering.
If what you have read here is exciting (it excites us) then get hold of a copy of Hinchcliffe and Kim’s, Social Business By Design , [order it through Dymocks] and contact our Ray Goldie—0411 553 688—to help you understand how social business transformation processes can be applied to your organisation.
This article first appeared on the NxtSTRATEGIC blog.