When companies use social media, some (most) of them seem to focus on the media part, and forget about the social part. I think, that’s a terrible mistake.
Social business means using social media as a business tool: contributing to your company’s organizational goals. For any commercial organization these goals can be traced back to generating income and reducing expenses. If you’re eager to implement social business within your company, your focus should not be on fancy tools, but more on the people within your company and the partners you’re working with on a regular basis.
Four possible social business scenarios to start with
Next to this group of colleagues and partners, there are three other groups of people in and around each company: potential colleagues and partners, clients, and potential clients. Basically, your social business scenarios are limited to improving communications (and relationships) between your colleagues and partners and one of these four groups of people.
In the first scenario, you will work on improving communications between the group of colleagues / partners and their peers within your company. Hereby, aiming to improve mutual connections and a better exchange of knowledge and experience. This increases employee satisfaction and productivity, and saves your company both time and production costs.
The second scenario focuses on improving connections with the labor market. You will help your colleagues and partners establish relationships with potential colleagues and partners. Hereby, enabling them to find and attract the right labor force in a more effective and more efficient manner. This results in savings in time and recruitment costs for your company.
Another option is focusing on relationships with existing clients. By engaging with clients on a regular basis, your colleagues will know what issues they’re struggling with and respond to their demands much faster. Hereby, saving both time and marketing costs. Of course, these improved relationships also create a possibility to generate income.
You’ve probably guessed the final option by now: connecting colleagues and partners with potential clients. With this scenario, you will improve market insights, enable a quicker response to market demands, and create more market access. As with the previous scenario, you will save both time, and marketing costs, and create a possibility to generate more income.
“But, isn’t there a fifth group of people,” I can almost hear you think. Well, you’re right. Many organizations are dealing with stakeholders that have no direct interest in the company. For example: governmental institutions, the press, or neighbors. Obviously, you can use social media to improve a relationship with these groups of people. However, it’s much harder to build a business case around PR or reputation management. Therefore, I’ve chosen to limit this article to the four scenarios described above.
First, you’ll have to choose one of these four scenarios and stick with it. It might be tempting to work on other social business projects at the same time. However, my advice is simple: don’t. These projects take time and effort. Dividing your attention amongst a few of them decreases the possibility of success.
Start small. It’s hard enough to free any budget these days. Let alone for a project of which the outcome is unsure. Therefore, I advice you to start a pilot project. Actually calling it a pilot project helps as well. People (for example the ones in your security department) tend to be less strict, and you’ll be able to create a relaxed atmosphere for yourself and the participants.
Choose a project that enables you to create success in a relatively easy way. Are you aware of the enormous costs that are made to attract new employees? Or the amount of money that is lost, because clients leave the company? Find out how much exactly. Ask for a percentage (sometimes 1% is sufficient) and use this as a budget to run your pilot project.
In general people don’t like change. Focus on those people that respond to your efforts in a positive way. Make sure they experience what the commercial use of social media can do for them personally. This will help them change their behavior. Also, don’t hesitate to share their successes with the rest of your organization. There’s nothing more inspiring than the success of others.
Make no mistake. You might be running a pilot project. This doesn’t relieve you from the responsibility to contribute to a certain form of commercial success. In the end, your efforts and the investment that was made, should lead to a tangible contribution to a certain turn over or cost reduction. Only then, you’ll be able to form a business case that helps you create support for your next social business step: developing and implementing a full social business strategy.