This is the second in a series of blog posts exploring social business
In the last blog post I introduced the term “social business” with the following definition:
“A social business is an organisation that has incorporated social engagement processes and technology across all areas of a business (both internally and externally) to maximise business value and profitability.”
You may still be scratching your head over what “incorporating social engagement processes” actually means, and what is meant by internally and externally. So, to start delving a little deeper into the definition, it’s helpful to clarify what is meant by internal and external audiences. By internal audience, I am referring to employees, partners, investors – any group that has a vested interest in selling a product, solution, service or company proposition. An external audience however, is any group that will be on the receiving side of the organisation’s brand messaging: customers, potential prospects, potential partners, potential investors and potential employees.
The social-business goal is to have internal audiences collaborating in order to effectively communicate with external audiences. “Social engagement processes” are about optimising human engagement at the heart of an organisation for it to penetrate across all communications externally.
With these definitions in mind, the next question to answer is: “What do you actually need to do?” As the diagram above highlights, there are four stages of social business enablement:
1) Work out where everyone is.
Before you have a party, you need to know where to send the invitations! The same process applies: before you facilitate the engagement process, you need to map your social landscape – both internally and externally. Where is everyone? How are they connected?
2) Work on your people.
With one-to-one human engagement at the heart of this proposition, it makes sense that you understand how to connect to your audience. For an external audience (anyone who is on the receiving end of your brand messaging), identify both the business and human need for your product, solution or service. Whilst a certain product may make business sense as it reduces operational costs, what’s in it for the actual target purchasers – will it help them secure their jobs by appearing more tech-savvy then other members of staff? Will it get them bonuses for cost-savings? This human need is often ignored and as a result, organisations compete for ears in a crowded space – all with similar messaging.
For internal audiences, the same principle applies. You need to activate your workforce, get exec buy-in – how will social engagement help them and how will it help the organisation? Following from this, you can develop an organisation model that places socially-activated employees into every department across the business.
3) Define the process.
So you know where to send the invitations to your party and you know how to motivate them to come – what’s next? You need to make it happen! Following this analogy (which I promise I won’t use again!), the next step is to put in place the processes to make social engagement happen. Looking at your external audience, use the insight obtained to create and tailor the messaging. For your internal audience, facilitate and connect the different socially activated workforce through listening, engagement and crisis-management workflows. To ensure people engage effectively, provide governance models and policies into best practices along with social training.
4) Identify your technology.
This is the last step before you are ready to engage. More often or not, it’s the step that organisations jump to first, but before you choose technology that can support your social business, you need to have gone through steps one to three to know what technology you actually need and who will be using it. The social-business technology space is becoming more and more crowded, with new vendors introducing tools into the market every month. Simply put, these tools aim to facilitate engagement both internally and externally. Think carefully about which tools best suit your business as a whole and ensure they work with your current processes.
So there you have it – you should be all ready to go down the path of social business enlightenment… or not! There’s a great deal of information to be taken in here, so in following posts, I’ll drill deeper into each of the stages and relate them to real-life examples of organisations that are supporting the social-business proposition. In next week’s post, however, I’ll answer the questions you may be thinking: Why should I care? What’s in it for me?