The use of social media within businesses is probably one of the most exciting developments in customer relations in recent years. I am now in the position where if a company is not actively using social media then I am less likely to use them than a competitor who I can discuss issues with on networks. In many organisations the question about whether social media is just a gimmick or something that is a ‘nice’ thing to do is no longer discussed. These are the companies where they are fully realising the benefits of social media to business.
But social business is about more than developing the external use of networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It is great to see people using social media to discuss issues about work, services and developments with colleagues. There is something egalitarian and that breaks down hierarchical organisations when the junior staff can speak directly to the leaders of the business. Doing this through external networks brings with it some risks. For many businesses having internal discussions in a very public way is not helpful as it may alert competitors among other things.
What is important is developing the culture that has already changed the way business is done with customers to bring it inside the organisation. For me that is the true essence of a social business when the ethos of networking, collaboration and sharing is happening with colleagues, stakeholders as well as customers.
There is an interesting discussion planned for #SWChat tomorrow (Monday 29 July 2013) which is whether Enterprise Social Networks are a business tool or just a bit of fun. http://www.stopthinksocial.com/live-show-swchat/ I think the answer is fairly simple the social business model is a significant development in modern life and has brought substantial benefits for early adopters. For Greater Manchester Police we have seen time saved because people are sharing information through Twitter and Facebook, wanted people found, missing people located and criminals brought to justice. These are the real business benefits and results from externally using social networks.
Bringing this development within the organisation can build on the cultural change that has already started. There is so much that can be done to support the business by bringing employees together so they can share information. They will be able to access the right people at the touch of a button, which will be among many ways to save time. Social business will improve problem solving. And yes it will of course be fun but why shouldn’t work be fun?