Devising and implementing a social strategy is no small feat. You’d be surprised to know just how many companies out there are struggling with this. However, just because you think your strategy is working, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. So how do you know if your social strategy is working, well Bill Kalma, VP of technical services at Model Metrics, offers up four characteristics of a successful social enterprise that you should look for.
1. Connectivity Internal & External
According to Kalma’s post “Connectivity within an organization, between employees, departments, regions and divisions, is key.” A natural offspring of increased internal and external connectivity is greater communication flow, which has a multitude of benefits. Kalma highlights several: increased connectivity aids in tactical communications related to business processes, on-boarding new employees, and building a culture of teamwork.
It’s important to keep in mind, when thinking of connectivity, that it’s not just internal connectivity that’s important. You have to remember when becoming a true social enterprise you must have an external presence as well. According to Kalma, “participat[ing] in external, public social networks is also a requirement of the social enterprise. It’s no longer a nice thing for companies to be on networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn it’s now a requirement.” Everyone knows that recommendations, which are a major purchase influencer among consumers, often disseminate through the social web. Kalma warms though “not to dismiss these channels as only consumer centric…YouTube marketing strategies for B2B customers often include customer testimonials, product demos, fun topics related to an industry and viral video contests.”
One of the most powerful, yet challenging aspects of social networks is that everyone now has a voice. Public social networks are chalk full of customer questions, comments, issues, and opinions about the products they use. The key is being able to listen in on what’s being said about your brand. “By listening to their customers, they [organizations] can identify issues to resolve and turn potentially dissatisfied customers into advocates. Best of all, this can be done in real-time.”
Kalma warns that just monitoring social networks isn’t enough. What really sets apart the winners and losers is being able to take customer feedback and incorporate this knowledge into the organization. This is not an easy feat and usually results in developing a strategy in and of itself. “For example, Gatorade established Mission Control to monitor social networks. As a result, Gatorade has been able to track media performance; monitor sports landscape; track sports trends and buzz; track brand attributes; monitor online discussion; and perform proactive social media outreach.”
Because of the personalized nature of the social enterprise, it requires consumers, partners and employees to interact on subjects that are meaningful within the context of what they are doing. Kalma writes, “Customers looking for information to make an educated purchase or solve a problem need timely and relevant data. If they can’t find it, they may move on to your competitor. Smart businesses build customer social networks.”
By establishing these customer social networks, organizations can provide customers contextual information, answer questions and offer up suggestions in an open forum. For these networks to be effective, “communities need to be updated and managed, but the effort required to govern them is far outweighed by their impact.” If done correctly, customers will feel valued and important when their voices are heard, when they experience assistance, or when they have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge by helping someone in the community. When the previously mentioned interactions take place, they end up resonating deeply with customers and help facilitate customer loyalty.
You can’t talk about the social enterprise without talking a little bit about mobile. With at least 425 million mobile Facebook users, it’s becoming more and more apparent that social interactions cannot be limited to the desktop. “Social enterprises are embracing mobility and are establishing a strategy for mobile device, but they are also revolutionizing the war we work with them.”
Conceptually, the characteristics of a successful social enterprise are pretty simple, however they can end up being enormously complex in practice. Organizations need to have patience and a well thought out strategy to combat the complexities that will inevitably arise. As Kalma says, “A company will not see the value of becoming a truly social enterprise by adopting only a single strategy, but rather, by creating a balanced approach, suited to its needs.”