Please note: this is a cross-post by Alasdair Munn. You can find his website here.
Enter Alasdair Munn:
We talk about social networks and how organizations can leverage them to build community, connection, engagement and trust with their customers. Our mission is to convince organizations to start learning how to utilize these resources and shift their attitudes. But, we are coming up against obstacles. What’s all this lark about ROI? Don’t they get social media?
However, while we debate these issues with companies, things have moved on. The technology, thinking and market conditions are ready and ripe for enterprise social software. Social media tools, widgets, and methodologies can be integrated into the very fabric of an organization, pulling together all their disparate elements. Many tools will fade into the background facilitating the connection of conversations and providing online solutions that are intelligent and led by the audience. There is a distinction here between overt user-generated content and underlying user generated-value. We are missing an opportunity if we sit back and wait for people to catch up.
This is not the future, it can happen now and it is happening now. We need to let go of our obsession with shifting the organizational mindset. We have become stuck. We think we cannot move on until this is resolved. We are thinking linearly. Our process often looks a bit like this:
- First get them to acknowledge the value of social networks.
- Get them to want to engage with their customers.
- Teach them that ROI is an old, outdated model.
- Then, once they have bought into it, show them how social media tools and software go beyond social networks.
But this linear thinking and approach is just as much part of the old world as trying to apply an accounting model to social network interactions.
If organizations are struggling to shift their structures to adapt to using social networks then we must do what any self-respecting new thinker would do: we need to listen to them. We need to ask why they are resisting and we need to adjust so we address those concerns, not through argument or debate, but through changing our approach.
We have misunderstood the ROI debate. This was a cry from organizations for us to provide them with solid business reasons for utilizing social media, and we failed them. Through kicking back and telling them that they were wrong, that they didn’t get it, that only a fool would expect to measure the ROI of social media we have made them more obdurate.
The route to understanding is through demonstrating tangible value. We need to understand what their concerns are.
- How are their organizations structured?
- How do they create content?
- How do they manage that content?
- Who collaborates with whom?
- How intuitive and effective is their CRM?
- How is knowledge transferred?
- What does their intranet look like?
- What about their extranet?
- What is their sales process?
Bring it back to the organization. Addressing concerns that they see as real, and demonstrating how social software and a shift in approach will help resolve those issues will make sense to them.
Social media tools and software may well have been crafted in consumer markets, but its value to enterprises lies in bringing it back to their organization and making it relevant to their business goals and objectives