It’s one thing knowing that your business needs to get on board with social media — that much has become self-evident, it’s quite another doing so successfully. The rewards for getting social media right are fairly significant. According to research company Millward Brown, there’s a direct correlation between how successful a company is and how well it uses social media. Do it wrong however and you will have wasted a lot of time, money and resources for nothing.
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As more and more companies hop onto the enterprise social media bandwagon however, the number who fail to use it properly will also increase drastically.
According to tech research company Gartner, enterprise social networks will soon become the primary communication channels for noticing, deciding or acting on information relevant to carrying out work. By 2016, it reckons that half of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, and that 30% of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today. It estimates however that through 2015, 80% of social business efforts will fail to achieve what they set out to do.
The main causes of this failure, it says, will be inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology.
“Businesses need to realize that social initiatives are different from previous technology deployments,” says Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a “push” paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a “pull” approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in.”
Using Facebook-like enterprise social networking software for communication has several advantages over email and traditional check-in/check-out repository-centric collaboration in terms of information capture and reuse, group organization, and social filtering. A Facebook-like social networking environment within an organization can be used as a general-purpose communication channel where information and events that originate in external systems — such as email, office applications and business applications — can be injected into conversations, and vice versa. With an understanding of the key influencers in the social network, communication channels will become even more effective.
This means that anyone running a company’s social effort should stop worrying about which technology to use. Instead they should focus on identifying how social initiatives will improve the way people work as individuals and teams. They also need a detailed understanding of real-world social networks: how people are currently working, who they work with and what their needs are.
“There is too much focus on content and technology, and not enough focus on leadership and relationships,” says Rozwell. “Leaders need to develop a social business strategy that makes sense for the organization and tackle the tough organizational change work head on and early on. Successful social business initiatives require leadership and behavioral changes. Just sponsoring a social project is not enough — managers need to demonstrate their commitment to a more open, transparent work style by their actions.”
Gartner also reckons that a number of features emerging in public social networks will start finding their way onto business social networks. Three of these features — social, mobile and gamification — are set to make a big mark in the business world. These features increase the attractiveness, usability and effectiveness of the applications they are found in. By 2017, it says, most apps will include these features.