We have discussed some of the many opportunities and challenges associated with social business activity. In this final section, we offer some practical and prescriptive guidance on how to begin (or accelerate) your social journey. It’s essential to develop a long-term vision about how your social business activities will connect with the realities of your organization. Beyond just buying social tools, the organization must commit resources (people and funding) to support their adoption. Integrating external data sources into enterprise systems and tackling the challenge of measuring results will also be critical to the long-term results of many social business strategies.
Start with a Long-Term Vision
A “clear vision of how social media supports business strategy” was the top facilitator of adoption in our survey. Therefore, we believe the first step in your social business journey is to create and communicate the broader social strategy for your organization. What business problems are to be solved with social business activities? What is the strategy for making this happen? What technology best supports these objectives? What kinds of social networks will support this strategy? Recognize that your social business journey will take time and that it will require and drive changes to your business processes, your organizational structure and how you interact with customers and employees.
Assess Where You Are Today
Identify problems that are currently being addressed with social tools. Explore whether the right social business resources are being directed toward the right business problems. If your organization is in a heavily regulated industry, are your regulatory affairs personnel talking about social business? What coordination exists between those who are most invested in social business activities and those who know how regulations address social business issues? Make sure you have a governance process in place to address these and similar questions as part of your initial social strategy.
Identify the people or roles that will focus on social business and how these individuals are to coordinate with one another. What, if any, relationship exists between your CMO and CIO around social business? Individuals in both roles should have a shared understanding of the risks and opportunities of social business.
Use listening tools to collect information on what is being said about your organization, your brands, your customer service and your competition. Our research indicates that only a small percentage of organizations have begun to connect external social data into existing enterprise systems and data.