A few years ago I remember having a conversation with some of my peers about emerging trends and the concept of Enterprise Social came up. Since then we have collectively followed this trend waiting for the right moment we all knew would eventually come to light. Finally it appears the time has come. Enterprise Social is making noise all over the Vendor/Partner Channel.
Throughout our research we have always come up against the same issue: how do you take an organization from where they are today to a truly Enterprise Social organization? What are the steps? Where do you start? How do you measure success along the way?
First let me tell you that I consider Social as the quest for modernization within our organizations. It’s a transformational process that seems nebulous, however, you can approach it with some sense of structure and process. You can even measure quantifiable progress along the way.
What is Enterprise Social?
Before we dive too deep into this it helps to understand some common concepts that we will be exploring.
When I think about Enterprise Social I think of four different dimensions of collaboration coming together to create a model for how we do work. These make up the Enterprise Social Environment and I define them as: Social Collaboration, Social CRM, Social Selling, and Social Analytics. Any organization that decides to trek the “Path to Modern” will typically follow along this trajectory; where Enterprise Social is concerned that is. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.
This is where it all begins. In my experience the ability to work (out loud) in a social manner within the organization has to come first. Everything else is a natural extension of this effort. Social is about moving companies along a spectrum of modernization. It’s about becoming more adaptable, agile, and effective in a new market where old ways are less likely to achieve the results needed to sustain success. This effort has to start with the employees of that organization and then progress outward to include key partners, suppliers, and customers. Once an organization gets comfortable collaborating in a social context with internal and external stakeholders the progression to other aspects of social will be easier.
The next level of adoption is Social CRM. Think of this as an “outside in” workload. It is the ability of the organization to nurture the existing relationship with its existing customer base. This key here is listening and includes activities such as monitoring social media channels for support and proactively providing social vehicles for customers to interact with internal resources. One example would be a customer support network utilizing Yammer where customers, partners, and internal resources come together in an effort to establish a sense of community set towards increasing value to the greater team.
This is where most organizations want to jump into first. Some succeed but many do not. The reason is that they have not laid the foundation within their organization, and their partner/customer community, to support Social Selling. Here is an example of how most companies approach Social Selling. The company uses Facebook and Twitter to attempt to educate the masses about a gap in the marketplace and then attempts to sell the same customers on how their product fills that gap. This is the basic, “Here is a problem. We have a solution. Buy our stuff.” approach. This is not Social Selling. This is using social media to shotgun everyone your solution and its quest to solve a problem.
Social Selling, on the other hand, is something people do naturally every day. It is word of mouth on a grander scale. How do word of mouth sales happen? Through storytelling. Social Selling is most effective when it happens in a natural and agreeable manner and the best way to do that is by telling a story that includes input from existing customers and partners about how you helped them become better in some way.
The last time I bought a product based on the recommendation of a friend I did so because that friend made a connection between what the product or service does and how I would benefit from it. By helping me visualize their pain in a way that I could empathize with, I was able to make a connection in my own life. Social Selling is storytelling and leveraging empathy.
This needs little explanation and yet somehow it has eluded the vast majority of organizations. We always struggle with how to measure ROI on intangible things. There are many different ways to measure the effectiveness of your Enterprise Social initiatives and I won’t get into them here. Let me just say that it is super critical that you find a way to measure the return on investment in a manner that makes sense for your organization.
The Enterprise Social Environment
The above components come together to make up the Enterprise Social Environment. The components are complementary to each other and serve as the foundation for each successive layer.
Social Affinity Model
As I said earlier, all organizations should start with Social Collaboration and move through the journey. That being said, the first thing to determine is where your organization is today. The model below is the Organizational Affinity Model for Enterprise Social and it is used to plot an organization along a spectrum from a more “Authoritative” organization to a more “Collective” organization. When it comes to Enterprise Social, we see that organizations that score higher on the Collective side of the spectrum tend to have more success implementing a Social Strategy. With this in mind, I recommend that any organization beginning on an Enterprise Social journey take a honest look at where they fit on this scale.
Once you have a solid idea of where you stand today, we can start to develop a guide that can take us along the journey to a more modern and social organization. This starts with Social Collaboration using the model described above. Just remember, collaboration should happen naturally and without thought of the underlying technology or the effort required to enable it. If you set this as your goal the rest will follow.