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Becoming a Social Business: The Social Business Bus - But Who's Driving?

Becoming A Social Business The Social Business Bus - But Who's Driving

This coming Wednesday (18th June) I'll be presenting at the B2B Summit in London.  I'll be sharing the journey that SAP is making into becoming a social business.  Like most organisations that are shifting towards this approach, it's important to recognise that this isn't a switch that can be flicked overnight.  It's a transformation.  A cultural shift.  Social has to become part of the organisations DNA.  Part of everyday working practices.

I regularly read around becoming a social business and see the discussion happening from a variety of perspectives outlined below:

Communications:  This department is often responsible for employee communications.  Their expertise lies within the Communications skill, dealing with executive comms, thought leadership and messaging strategies.  Their relationship with social media is normally centered around blogger engagement but this function will understand the best mix of media and message that resonates with employees.  They know how to engage audiences with messaging frameworks and often hold the 'amplification' key for internal communication.

Sales:  Sales leadership are naturally focused around the customer.  They will want to use social techniques to listen out for buying signals, simply complex sales cycles through collaborative workflows and share relevant content to keep target audiences informed.  They will need a social platform that keeps them nimble, responsive and predictive.  They will be looking to find a competitive advantage in every deal using social tools to position themselves as the preferred vendor.

Human Resources:  The HR department will need a completely different approach.  Traditionally responsible for recruitment, talent retention, employer branding and employee engagement, these guys are seeking ways to drive a competitive advantage through the workforce.  How can they attract the best talent whilst keeping hiring costs down?  How to retain knowledge within the company even after people leave?  How to increase the productivity of a multi-generational workforce?  The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55-64 and 47% of Millennials now say a prospective employers online reputation matters as much as the job it offers.  The entire workforce has become digitally savvy and the HR organisation needs to take advantage of this.

Operations:  This team is looking to drive productivity.  According to a McKinsey study, 72 percent of companies use social technologies in some way, however very few are anywhere near to achieving the full potential noting that there is an opportunity to raise productivity by 20 - 25%.  Operational teams within the organisation will be looking at collaborative technologies (such as SAP Jam, Yammer, Jive Software) where internal collaboration and communication can be streamlined, knowledge can be captured and productivity improved.  Not only that, these technologies can be used to collaborate with partners and customers outside of the company enabling account executives to manage complex projects with cross functional personnel involved.

Marketing:  This department naturally looks to social as an amplification engine for marketing awareness, brand engagement and becoming a social business.  The most recent Forrester B2B Social Technographics® numbers show 100% of business decision-makers use social media for work purposes and of those, 98% of business decision-makers are Spectators (they read blogs, watch videos, or listen to podcasts).  It's no longer a question of "should we use social media for marketing" but more "how best should we use it"?  The 'spray and pray' approach is no strategy for dealing with this medium.  Marketers need to find their audiences, engage and add value to the conversation.  The challenge is now how you scale such a task.  Answer:  Social Business.

Everyone in the business has a stake in becoming a social business model which is why you may see bubbles of innovation happening all over the company.  This is an opportunity to consolidate efforts, centralise the approach and drive efficiency.  In my experience the natural drivers of change has been Communications, Marketing and HR.  A winning combination that combines messaging, tools experience along along with employee engagement.

What's your experience?

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