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Perspectives

Beyond the Balance Sheet: How Social Contributes Real Business Value

2014-02-04


In this article we examine the social quotient of organizations — their readiness to generate benefits from the use of social media.

Social networking has become an integral part of business. In fact, nearly 75% of Fortune 500 companies have adopted social media as a business strategy1. While most companies use social media for marketing, customer service and growth, gurus believe the use of social networking will take on increased urgency within the enterprise to drive increased efficiency and collaboration across internal teams.

By applying our three-stage model, companies can optimize their use of social and derive tangible benefits.

1. Select activities within your organization (strategy, design, manufacture, sale, operations and accounts) that could be enhanced by social networking, either across/within departments or consumer-focused. While some activities intuitively seem customer-focused, these dynamics can be transformative from an inward-focused use of social networking tools and techniques.

2. Identify the target audience for social based on the organizational activities above and decide on your approach; internal-focus, external-focus (customers, suppliers, partners) or hybrid.

3. Improving the social quotient by integrating IT infrastructure with social technology, often revisiting business practices through organizational decentralization. Recognizing individual skills increases employee innovation, collaboration, and consequently the information flow.

Social networking can be implemented in the organization either top-down, where IT or business managers enforce new approaches or bottom-up, built on tools that the organization is already using. While there is no agreed-to standard approach, organizations that thrive most are the ones that adopt a little of both strategies according to their requirements.

In collaboration with acclaimed academic institution INSEAD, we profiled six companies for their internal use of social networking; examining their objectives, challenges, choice of solutions, and business benefits. The results were remarkable.

NEXT STEPS

Based on our study of these companies, we believe the following five steps are integral to successful adoption of social networking inside an organization's four walls:

Clear motives:

Study the specific challenges to overcome and areas to enhance.

Experiment:

The best fit tailored to your specific needs is achieved only after experimentation and elimination.

Engagement with users:

Social platforms are of no use if they are difficult or unpopular with its users. Listen to user feedback and implement user ideas for better experiences and success.

Involvement of senior management:

Social platforms work better within a homogenized, non-hierarchical environment. If employees know they have the backing of senior management, they are more receptive to change.

Freedom for the user:

Give users freedom of expression, open constructive criticism, and creative experimentation and problem-solving.

When executed well, internal social media programs and digital social enterprise in general can help your company achieve its maximum potential. To learn more about the use of social media contributes real value to business, register to read the full white paper Beyond the Balance Sheet , or read the executive summary.

1 Fortune 500 Social Media Adoption Surging in 2012, MarketingProfs, 2012

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Beyond the Balance Sheet: How Social Contributes Real Business Value