Preparing the Enterprise for Social Media

Everywhere you go, you see it. You can’t escape it. It’s in the movies, your favorite restaurant, even your kids get it. Now it’s starting to infiltrate your company and get in the way of real business. Social media. Now what? Do we block it? Support it? Listen to the experts and just let it happen?

Executives are reeling with the fact that social media is beginning to affect their businesses. Consumers’ expectations and habits are changing, employees are trying new ways to share information and capture knowledge. Even supply chains, HR practices, vendor selections, distributor networks, and customer service are starting to be affected by social media. The issue is that every week brings a new horror story of what not to do; however, everyone points only to about a handful of companies, in total, for examples of what to

High-performing companies see an opportunity to get in front of social media to manage changing preferences, trade knowledge, and make faster decisions across the enterprise. The question from executives is: “How do you design a social business that has the ability to infuse and empower the right parts of the enterprise while still keeping some controls as needed for business purposes?” There are no “silver bullet” answers; no two companies are the same, nor can they manage to the same expectations. The key is to design against a consistent framework that places the proper controls and manages the potential risks appropriately. The following are leading practices from companies that are pioneering the new worlds of managing social media within the enterprise.

Organizational Modeling: Organizations are mostly structured the same way they were 60 years ago. This new era of direct communications, multilayered engagement, and interaction is necessitating a new model to manage the process at scale. To establish a culture that employees can buy into today, finding the right model is important.

Social Business Maturity Modeling: Change cannot happen overnight, but it can be managed over time. Step-by-step advancements can help companies transform with greater controls, consistency, and results. Get to where you want to be—on purpose.

Governance Process: Social technologies are pervasive and easy to set up and use. Overzealous employees will “try out” social initiatives around a small part of the business without considering the larger implications of their actions. It is for this reason that a process is needed to evaluate the volume of initiatives that will come from every department and probably every level of every department.

Risk Mitigation Process: It is important to know what to do before an issue arises. To mitigate the potential risk associated with issues arising from social media actions or inactions, employees need to understand where to go when they get the first hint that something is not right. This is a framework for developing consistencies and setting up an escalation process.

Employee Enablement: What is often lost in designing for a social business is the effect on employees. In order to enable employees, companies must overcome the fears of employees engaging socially with customers, suppliers, etc. This can be done with training, capability laddering, and proper information routing at the corporate level. 

Social Training/Social Learning: Training is imperative to build consistency in approach and to create a sense of understanding of the expectations for those involved. Whether rolling out an initiative to a team or across the entire enterprise, training is a must have and should be customized to the audience. Employees will require different training than agents, distributors, suppliers, or specialists.

Response Guidelines: Having a consistent approach to handling responses to social media requests can create unified experiences for people who interact with your company. Included in the guidelines should be comment triage, response framework, training tips, and sample responses for typical situations.

Technical Design: Social media has a substantial impact across a wide range of tools, business processes, and data interfaces. Organizations need an integrated social media platform that supports social activities, which can be built using a combination of new and existing software solutions.

Corporate Social Playbook: Social media is driving efficiencies by better utilizing our networks of employees, customers, suppliers, and distributors. Companies need a comprehensive framework that will address the ways in which social tactics can enhance traditional business processes. Areas might include innovation, customer service, employee helpdesk, and purchasing.

Brand Strategies: Brands have a new opportunity to engage and interact with customers in very different ways. In addition to engagement, brands now have an opportunity to redefine themselves into something more aligned with their promise.

The expectations of our customers and employees are changing. In order to keep pace with the changing environment, companies need a new model to help rethink their corporate strategies to meet the changing demands of the customer and employee while mitigating risk and creating opportunities to leapfrog competitors.

Jason Breed is the social media practice lead for Accenture Interactive. He is a senior digital strategist with more than nine years of experience developing and implementing advanced Web and mobile social media strategies with significant, demonstrated ROI. For more information on Accenture Interactive’s Enterprise Social Business solutions, visit http://www.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/service-enterprise-social-business.aspx.



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