It’s time for organisations to stop wasting money on ‘social media’

It's time for organisations to stop wasting money on 'social media'

Since social became mainstream 2 or 3 years ago, the overwhelming emphasis has been on social media marketing, and to some extent social media support. However, like many new technologies, the focus on social for these purposes was just part of a rush to exploit others driven by self-interest.

Social technologies are far more inclusive, ubiquitous, and meaningful for people than being “just another channel” or a way to reduce people costs at call centres.

It’s 2015, let’s start to embrace the holistic view of social, starting with organisations.

Social isn’t a department, it’s a fabric

Leading organisations e.g. IBM, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Zappos, Deutsche Bank, do focus on engagement, that’s true. Not “engagement” simply from the social media viewpoint of Retweets and Likes, but across the whole ecosystem of their business, including engaging the minds AND hearts of their employees.

In a nutshell, these firms use social technologies to grow via the purpose, passion, and commitment of their employees and customers.

In order to do that they need to integrate “outside” social (commonly called social media and what most people think of as “social”) and “inside” social – the formidable world of enterprise social networks e.g. Yammer, Jive, IBM Connections.

A single coherent strategy needed

It would seem obvious that this all needs to be part of a single coherent business system with aligned outcomes. But it’s not. In most organisations the left side of the diagram below does not talk to the right hand. It’s not ying & yang, it’s chalk & cheese.

Social Technologies

To understand why “it would seem obvious” consider the following examples:
  • For Customer Support (external) to answer effectively they need to be able to get to the right knowledge/person quickly (internal);
  • For Product/Service Ideas (external) to reach the right Product Innovation group (internal) they need to be connected;
  • For Customer Advocacy (external) to be fuelled by Employee Advocacy (internal) they need to be able to communicate with each other, in social;
  • For Social Selling (external) to be effective it needs to be able to collaborate with the right people, sources, and content (internal);
  • For Social Data Analytics (outside) to be able to provide insights to Customer Centricity (inside) then they need to be connected, or better still integrated with internal customer analytics.

It’s great to have a customer support community. But if it doesn’t connect in a fluid and integrated way internally with how the business innovates, serves, processes, and motivates employees and customers then it’s just another bright shiny digital object loved by the Board but essentially irrelevant.

It’s time for organisations to stop wasting money on “social media” and get down to the serious business of planning how social technologies can fundamentally change the nature of their enterprise and its relationship with employees, customers, and partners – both present and future.

Engagement means authenticity, wholeness, and responsibility

Social technologies are the fabric enabling this change. They are the fabric which enables the development of a “positive social culture” where the intrinsic good of people is engaged. That’s the “engagement” of the now, in 2015.

This engagement is holistic and allows employees to connect, extend, and reconfigure their strengths and talents through internal and external connectivity. In fact it allows employees to progress beyond the narrow notion of being brand advocates to being customer advocates internally. It facilitates employees, customers, and partners forming communities which add value to all of the them – in fact they create surplus value, abundance.

Firms that have done this have cut out layers of marketing people, for example, because customers don’t want to talk to marketing and sales people, they want to talk to specific people with specific knowledge. It’s the same within firms – employees don’t want more PR-speak and Corporate Communications-blah. Get rid of those layers and reconfigure the few people needed for strategy, governance, and some operational support, and let the organisation talk to itself, from the bottom-up and top-down.

Social technologies are designed to support and extend the wholeness of work and life, and the wholeness and humanity of the enterprise inside and outside. To understand how this translates into business outcomes is hard work, but it is being done by the leading firms, and it is holistic (and it is not social media run by the intern).

More reading:

Why employees are the key to your digital transformation
Businesses: Can you afford NOT  to invest in digital transformation?
Do you really want to work for managers who fear the use of social media?
Our digital future and what it means for businesses


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