Recently Juniper Networks hosted two social media workshops in Europe for its partners in the UK and Sweden. After attending the UK session, which was hosted by Luanne Tierney, it sprung to mind that although there is still a lot of buzz around social media, most businesses are not truly utilising it. I hope that the following piece on social business may provoke you to take action within your organisation and start your own social business journey.
Just as email has become a ubiquitous business tool so will social media in the coming years, therefore it is imperative that businesses take notice of social media. When I first started my digital career at Hyundai back in 1997, I was the only person within the organisation that had an email account and access to the Internet. Gradually over time more people were gained access and of course, nowadays working without connectivity is unthinkable. To a large extent social media is following this same pattern within organisations, where only certain people in certain functions are encouraged, or in fact provided, with access to use social channels in their every day work. Without full social media access for all employees within an organisation you can’t expect to develop a social business. Today we see a lot of organisations blocking the use of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter within the corporate network. This dictatorial attitude forces employees to use other methods of accessing these sites, bypassing the secure corporate network and accessing social media via their own tablets or mobile devices. It is far better for an organisation to instil social media best practice and governance than it is to demonise social media and drive employees off the network.
Businesses need to realise that social media goes well beyond brand and into engagement with key communities-- that it means empowering employees to use social media in their every day roles to influence, engage and join in conversations about business needs and opportunities. This cumulative engagement that builds over time is what leads to a truly social business.
It is clear that doing what’s always been done will not lead to social business breakthroughs. Businesses should ultimately look to achieve being a social business within three to five years, which means starting now. The first step is to look at social media as a new communication channel, which opens up new opportunities for businesses. Gone are the days where marketing is used in the traditional sense, and classed as a cost centre function. Marketing now needs to prove itself and show return on investment, a contribution to the bottom line and add value to sales pipeline. Social marketing allows for greater engagement in the buyers journey along with assisting the humanisation of brands. Next step is empowering your employees to be your brand advocates and utilise the social channels in their everyday work. Finally encourage your customers to actively be social with you and engage and leverage your content for their benefit.
Plenty of research has taken place over the years that says people don’t form relationships with brands, they form relationships with people. Social media accelerates the formation and depth of relationships by enabling quicker communication and sharing amongst their individual networks. If your employees are not allowed to use the social channels in their every day work then they are limiting their marketing effectiveness in this fast changing social world.
So, what are you waiting for? Make a plan to pilot social media within your organisation. It is easy to get started for Juniper’s partners; first check out the new education programme, then go to the Juniper’s partner marketing concierge to watch the social media videos and download the latest campaign material. Enjoy and good luck!