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Driving Social Adoption: Overcoming 5 Hurdles
August 17, 2012
Alan Radding, Big4.com Guest Blogger
(A book is the best way to build a consulting practice: ask about ghostwriting your book.)
Consulting firms are scrambling to bring their business clients into social networking. The first challenge is to get them to take it seriously, that it is not just Facebook fun and games. Collaboration has emerged as a primary business driver as business embraces collaboration is a key to gaining competitive advantage.
PWC, for instance, observed that social technology offers considerable promise, but CIOs and business units are struggling to figure out how to use it effectively. A key reason is that most social media outside the enterprise is just pure communication.
At Capgemeni the Social Network Emergence Process or SNEP model has become a key device. The model explains the phases by which novel social media emerge in organizations. At Capgemini a small group of consultants started using Yammer back in August 2008. The model itself describes four stages: startup, neglect, excitement, and productivity.
In an economy where innovation has become the currency for sustained competitive advantage, it also has become a truism that when companies collaborate they will innovate more often and more effectively. Although large enterprises have long deployed complex and sophisticated collaboration tools, popular social networking tools can and are taking on the task.
For example, P&G, discovered that Facebook could pump new life into a stable but decidedly staid product, Pepto-Bismol. Business Week wrote about it here in March.
Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and those not so explicitly consumer oriented have found social networking success a bit more elusive. Among midsize businesses, for instance, 38% have a company Facebook page, but less than a quarter uses it to generate new leads and sales and less than one-fifth use it for internal collaboration or customer retention, according to a recent study by the SMB Group.
The SMB 2012 study shows overall use of social media is up from 44% to 53% among small businesses (1-99 employees) and up from 52% to 63% among medium businesses (100-999 employees) year-over-year, but it also reveals a widening gap between SMBs that are using social networking in an informal, ad hoc manner and those taking a more planned, strategic approach. Here is how can you can help your clients make social strategic in your organization and avoid common pitfalls.
Start by advising your client to make a commitment to use social media strategically and link it to goals for revenue growth. Strategic users, the study found, also were more likely to have already integrated social media with existing business applications and processes. CRM, customer support, and product development are the three that most immediately come to mind.
After that, you want to steer your clients around five social networking pitfalls organizations trip on. Kevin Casey, writing for Information Week, elaborated on them, which your blogger summarizes below:
- Not enough time. A lack of time was the clear number-one issue for small businesses, with 62% citing it as a roadblock to effective social engagement. Midsize businesses are similarly pressed.
- Too many social networks. The time issue compounds as the number of social platforms grows. Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others bring social networks that together complicate strategy development and execution.
- Hard to measure. Nearly half of midsize firms report being unable to accurately measure the value of their social networking. Why define and execute a strategy if there is no effective way to evaluate progress?
- Inappropriate tools and services. Yes, social monitoring and management tools are emerging but many are not designed for SMBs. They don’t want a comprehensive command center but something easily deployed that covers their key social activities in one simple toolset, including metrics.
- Confusing customer sentiment. SMBs experience a deluge of social information emanating from these networks, some of it contradictory, which makes it hard to figure out what it all means. Social analysis tools are just emerging for this.
Maybe the first challenge is getting your organization to adopt of social networking at all. Corinne Sklar, marketing director at Bluewolf Group, a leading social consulting firm, has this to say on adoption: Long emails with links to “How-to” web pages tend to fall victim to the I’ll-get-to-it-later email black hole. Instead, innovate with new forms of communication, the more streamlined and concise the better. As attention spans diminish providing a mix of communication tools helps your people get the info they need in the kind of short, bite-sized chunks they can absorb immediately. When going social, instant gratification counts.