Organisations “Don’t get” social media

Social Media: Changing Business

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

POST UPDATED 09.12.11

In general most organisations still don’t understand or don’t want to understand the impact, benefits and competitive advantage that social media can, in many cases, still provide. The problem lies in the half hearted way many organisations introduce social media within the organisation. Brian Glick, in his ComputerWeekly column said that (In summary) organisations in general still thought that employees, if given the option, would spend their time on social media sites instead of working are missing the important point. Organisations could reap significant benefits and it was in the interests of organisations to improve collaboration and communication with ‘customers, suppliers and partners.’ One of the reasons for not adopting social media is that social media is at the stage where email and the Internet were 15-20 years ago. I remember that at the time many organisations used to view email/Internet access in the same way. Now, email and Internet access forms the fabric of most organisations. For those organisations that just ‘don’t get’ social media, I will provide a simple three step process to ‘get you there.’

Step One – The social media policy

This does not have to be a completely new policy; this can be an addendum to the existing computer usage or Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) of an organisation. This should include acceptable/unacceptable behaviour for employees on social media such as blogging, social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter etc. The secret is to embrace social media, get your employees involved and make them your ambassadors in the new world of social media. Tony Redshaw, Aviva CIO captures the essence well, “If you want people to use it, you have to tolerate them using it and not always in the way you expect.” To get you started, here are a few links:

Step two – Internal and external Social Media adoption

Harnessing the power of social media will provide you with two key benefits:

  1. Collaboration and knowledge sharing becomes easier. Organisations of all sizes have struggled for years to capture the expertise of their knowledge experts without much success. Internal Social media platforms make that process simple and employees are encouraged to create ‘expert’ content. Expertise becomes easier to access, as Aviva’s example (QUICK STATS – £350 Billion assets, £50 billion sales, 54000 staff, and currently 120 wikis with potential for 600 more) demonstrates. For example, in Aviva’s case, Tony Redshaw, Aviva CIO said, “One of our people in the Melbourne office was having a complex issue. Someone in our York (England) office saw their online post. Within 24 hours they had related their experience and suggested a way of fixing it, and…problem solved. There was no way before for the two to hook up and for that information exchange to happen.”
  2. The younger generation leaving schools and universities is social media literate. They already have social media profiles on Facebook, MySpace and Bebo etc. Organisations are finding it hard to recruit and retain youngsters where social media equivalents are not available internally and where social media access generally is restrained. The primary reason is that these younger people utilise these technologies to communicate and interact with the world at large. Embracing the younger generation through social media adoption can bring benefits that may not have been anticipated. They will utilise these platforms in innovative ways, providing competitive advantage and adding to the bottom line.

Step three – Setup and monitoring Social Media

Organisations’ spend tremendous amounts of their finances on marketing and advertising but tend to spend no money on correct setup, creating the correct social media culture and actually monitoring social media. For the past month, I have been researching an organisation that thinks that it ‘gets’ social media. The way they have decided to setup their social media, I am sure, in their opinion is correct. Let me just explain how they have setup their social media. They have a blog but only their wholesalers can access it and oh, by the way, they would have to register to read the blog articles. They have setup a social media account with one of the main social media platforms. End customers are not allowed to become members of that group, as it is aimed at the wholesalers only. Customers have been wandering the web looking for information about their products but cannot easily access information about their products or have anywhere or anyone to go to for further information; even product enhancements have been discussed by customers. An independent site talks about the chemical products in their products as naturally occurring and their website fails to display that information. Ok, so why am I telling you all this and why is it important?

Let me explain. Social media is not a tool where the success can be measured in a given time frame/short term. Relationships are developed and nurtured utilising various social media platforms over both short/long term. It is a tool that allows us to interact with each other and our customers. The need is to, ‘engage and interact.’ This particular organisation has not done that. In actual fact, it has unconsciously created all sorts of barriers stopping its very customers reaching and interacting with it. I couldn’t find any evidence of anyone utilising social media to have any conversations anywhere with its customers. Social media is not being monitored and so this organisation has no way of knowing if anyone is posting any comments (positive or negative) anywhere on social media.

For example, I did come across some negative comments that could have been countered by simply informing the customer on where to find the information. Another example covered in my blog post a few weeks ago showed that if , Toyota had monitored social media, it would have become aware much earlier that its customers were unhappy and that it could impact Toyota’s reputation. Here are a few links to get you started:

More SM Tools:

Hootsuite , Tweetdeck , Yoono , Wefollow , Listorious , Twellow , Twellowhood , Klout , Visibli , Quora, Instagr.am , Pitchengine , Addictomatic , Tubemogul , Untweeps, Twitalyzer , Topsy , Ping.fm , Friendfeed , Google Alerts , Postrank , Storify , Backtype , Big-boards/ , Getclicky , Twitterfeed , Twitter Search , Onlywire , Hashtracking , Socialmention , Seesmic.com/ , Flock , Pingdom.com/ , Hubspot , Diaspora , Monitter.com/

Top Commercial Tools for large organisations (Cost more, probably not affordable by small business or for personal use):

Top 20 Social Media monitoring vendors for business

Radian 6 , Lithium , Attensity 360 , Alterian , Spiral 16 , Buzz Logic, Cymfony , Cision , Trackur

In summary:

  • Ensure that you have appropriate policies/guidelines to help employees navigate social media.
  • Adopt social media in a way that benefits your organisation and interact with a wide audience.
  • Monitor social media and use it to interact with your customers, suppliers and partners.
  • The objective internally is to create an environment of collaboration that allows the open exchange of ideas.
  • The objective externally is to create a ‘buzz’ and awareness about your product and organisation, in addition to PR.

About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

4 Responses to Organisations “Don’t get” social media

  1. I think what many people have in their minds is that Facebook, Twitter, wikis and other social media tools are for purely personal reasons. I have to say I was guilty of thinking the same. But after some research and volunteering experiences, I realized the many applications in the business context it has.

    Though Ashton Kutcher’s infamous challenge with CNN as to who would be the first to reach 1,000,000 followers is engraved in many minds, Twitter and other social media has evolved significantly. I agree. Who cares what someone is doing or thinking at any random moment. But what if you come across some information that would be useful to people you know. Wouldn’t you want to share it with them? Or what if you need help with a particular task or topic. You may not know who you can that can help you. Twitter is great for that and more!

    And wouldn’t it be great if you can have on-going communication with consumers of your products and services. Get to know them. Find out what they really want. Be active participants in the public conversation that is happening about your business on the Internet.

    You may even reduce your market research, advertising and communications costs, while improving customer satisfaction and supporting the growth of your business.

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Steve, thanks for taking the time to respond. I must say, I agree with your point that social media is a great tool to share knowledge. I have a few people in my network and they regularly update their status on LinkedIn and post useful information all the time.

      I wanted to share my knowledge with everyone and I started this blog. I had no idea that it would become as popular as it has and with every post, I look forward to reading more comments. I have actually learnt from people who have submitted comments and have enjoyed the many exchanges regarding my blog posts, both on and off the blog.

      Absolutely, its about having the opportunity of communicating with your customers while reducing many costs. It’s a win, win, only if you understand the potential though.

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Clive Couldwell Strategic Communications specialist – http://www.clivecouldwell.com left the following comment on a social media site:

    Good summary.

    Businesses can be intimidated by SM, when they should be embracing it as a way of getting closer to their customers and staff. Suppose you can’t blame them for reacting the way they have. They’ve only viewed SM as a time-wasting medium for idle employees when they should have been recognising it for what it is, just another channel of communication.

    Establish objectives, and when they come along use effective measurement tools and the average company will then start to realise the enormous potential SM can bring.

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      I said:

      Clive, thanks very much, especially as you have journalistic background. Always encouraged by comments such as yours.

      As you said, organisations need to analyse new ideas and innovations that come along and keep a positive mindset. Its having the ability to think past the negative connotations and asking the most basic question. What opportunity does this new technology offer my business and how can I use it to align it with the business vision (May warrant changing the vision, perhaps?).

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