Implement social business the right way
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Implementing social business (i.e. the commercial use of social media) in your organization isn’t easy. Earlier, I promised you an article on how to get started and here it is. Before we dive into it, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. You are aware that our economy is becoming more digital by the day. Organizational processes are changing or even disappearing completely. Needless to say, this has a major impact on your organization and your company’s business model.
However, these changes might not always be visible yet… Some of your colleagues even feel that digital technologies won’t have any effect on your company. You know, they’re mistaken. You know, there’s no separate digital economy, just an economy that is digital*. It’s all going to be business as usual, but with a strong digital component. The bad news however, is that you depend on the aforementioned laggards to provide you with support (time, money, or a combination of the two) to get you started on successfully using digital technologies, like social media, as business tools.
* As European commissioner Neelie Kroes puts it.
Time to prove them your point!
You’re probably already using social media for your company. You might have created a pretty successful Facebook page, your LinkedIn Company Page is followed by a couple of thousand people, and you even bought some Twitter ads to promote your latest service. All of this is great and as a company, you can’t really go without a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter presence any more. It would be similar to not having a phone number or email address.
However, contributing to actual business goals is really hard to do with any corporate social media account. Sure, you can easily reach thousands, interact with some, and funnel a few visitors to your corporate website. I’m not saying, this isn’t beneficial to your company’s business goals, it’s just really hard to impress a CEO with any digits on reach, interaction, and click throughs.
Let’s try a different approach and start by thinking what would impress your CEO. Personally, I like to keep it simple and think that he (or she) is running a commercial business. Commercial businesses are in it for the money. So, more money (either more income or more savings) will probably impress your CEO.
Now, how can you use social media to generate more income or extra savings?
Using social media as an advertising tool won’t get you there. Instead, think of social media as a relationship tool. People have always done business with other people. This won’t change. Even in a digital economy. Start empowering the people within your organization to use their own social media accounts to build and strengthen relationships with their target audience.
Again, I like to keep it simple. An average employee can have four different target audiences. They are either other employees, potential employees, clients, or potential clients.
Employees that have a support or staff function are usually focused on other employees and potential employees. An HR adviser’s largest target audience probably consists of other employees, while a recruiter is always on the look out for new talent. Meanwhile, consultants and sales representatives are focused on attracting new clients and keeping existing clients satisfied.
However, I wouldn’t recommend making a distinction too strict here. When lawyers or ICT consultants are looking for information their colleagues might hold, they’re focused on other employees, not clients.
Choose the scenario that fits your organization
Whatever the target audience, you’re always empowering your colleagues to use their own social media accounts to improve communications and relationships between themselves and their target audience. This said, you have four options to start implementing social business in your organization. They depend on your colleagues’ target audience and (really important) the thing that would impress your CEO most.
Are projects being delayed in your company, are you missing deadlines, and are customers starting to become unhappy? All because knowledge and expertise doesn’t flow through your organization as it should. Then, the first scenario where you empower employees to improve communicaties and relationships with their colleagues, is the one to choose.
Is your organization facing the challenge of recruiting hundreds, maybe thousands of new employees each year? Then, scenario two is the one to start with. Enable employees to connect with potential employees online. Let them tell the true story about your organization, so you’ll attract the right talent faster and more efficiently.
Are you experiencing a major churn at the end of each year? Are clients replacing your organization for another? Then, the third scenario is the one for you. Ask your CEO for a small percentage of that churn (the amount of money your company loses each year, because existing clients leave) and use that money to run a social business project to lower the churn by improving communications and relationships between employees and clients.
Or go for the fourth option, where you empower your colleagues to build new relationships with new clients and help them generate new business for themselves and the company.
What do you think? Do these four possible scenarios make sense to you? Do you feel comfortable starting up anything like this? Know, that some major Dutch companies have already been doing fairly well with these scenarios.
KPN and SNS Bank successfully rolled out an internal social network, which not only improved relationships between colleagues, but also enabled them to exchange knowledge and expertise effectively and efficiently. Deloitte lowered the cost per hire by 60% by enabling all of their employees to realize an employer brand online, through blogposts, Tweets, and Instagram pictures.
Microsoft laid the ground works for a conversation company during the release of Windows 8 by empowering 10% of their employees to converse with existing customers online. Organizations like AFAS, Coolblue, Dirkzwager, and Deloitte are all enabling employees to share their knowledge and expertise online to attract new clients.
So, what are you waiting for?
My next blogpost on this platform will be about measuring the impact of your social business efforts. Looking forward to your comments in the mean time.
About the author
Jochem Koole is an independent social business strategist Jochem Koole (1980) primarily helps B2B professional service firms successfully use social media as a business tool. He had the pleasure to work with clients like Deloitte, Grant Thornton, Loyens & Loeff, Microsoft, NHL Hogeschool, and PostNL. Join his session “Social business: empowering employees to create real value for their organization” during Social Media Week on Wednesday 24 september.
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