social business

by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

3 tips to get on the path to the best social strategy

Published May 05, 2015


Gerald “Jerry” Kane, Associate Professor of Information Systems at Boston College, explains his three pieces of advice to companies that want to ramp up their social strategy or embark on a new social journey. Here are this thoughts on how to increase the success factor of your social endeavor:

    1. Start small: Start with small pilot projects within particular divisions or project teams. BASF, a German chemical company, banned email within one project team—as an experiment—to see what would happen when they started working on social. They found that the efficiency of the project teams went up by about 25 percent.

    2. Force them, but don’t: With that BASF example, the employees wouldn’t have done that if they weren’t forced. It’s a combination of you’ve got to force them, but you can’t force them. What a lot of companies do is begin by recruiting volunteers and people who want to help champion the social projects. I’m sure every company has someone who wants to do that. I think at the beginning you could probably give it to them as a pet project, or a volunteer project, but you also need to recognize that this is work. If you’re not going to recognize that this is part of an employee’s job description, as part of their performance review, then any successes are going to be relatively limited. I’m asked, ‘Well what if employees refuse to use social? What if they just don’t want to do it?’ My response is, ‘What if an employee came to you that refused to use email? Or they don’t want to use the telephone? Could you work with this person?’ The answer is no; nobody in their right mind could think of working in this day and time without those tools. I think we’re getting social to that point.

    3. Social starts from the top: I’m not sure that CEOs and CMOs really need to always be doing it themselves, but they need to be championing these efforts. If these efforts are not coming from the top, it’s not going to get the institutional support the needs because this is going to require people going above and beyond and learning new ways of doing things. If the boss isn’t encouraging it and driving it, it’s just not going to happen. At the same time the boss needs to be very sensitive of listening to the people who are doing it—what's working, what’s not—so the boss can tailor his or her vision based on the results of the ground. It’s an interesting combination between top-down mandates and visions and bottom-up organic evolution. It’s a cycle between those two. 

Click here to read the whole written Q&A with Kane, where he explains how the enterprise has begun to benefit from social business, how businesses should plan their social strategy, and tips on how to derive insights from social data.

Click here to check out a podcast with Kane to learn how multinational companies that use social strategies combat the language barrier issue, and also find out what the recent study conducted by MIT Slone told Kane about the differences between in the social practices of B2B and B2C companies. Also find out why Kane feels IBM is the grandfather of social business.



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