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The Value of Enterprise Social Networks

As the digital media landscape evolves in the enterprise, clearer definitions and similarities are surfacing to elaborate on the social technology so that users have a thorough understanding of the intent. It is natural for the general perception of employees to equate enterprise social networking (ESN) with the social media networking platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but the key concept of both are fundamentally distinct. Social business networking (i.e. jive, yammer, sap jam, etc.) enables professional collaboration within the internal organization while social media networking offers channels to communicate information across public domains — keep this in mind when actively engaging on enterprise social networks.

ESN lends itself to the cutting edge communication that all generations can immerse themselves into in the workplace. Through the customized spaces and groups, employees and teams can manifest news, information, videos or pictures across the platform at any time of day — thus narrowing the collaboration gap between remote teams.

This takes on a fresh new concept of how employees can adopt social engagement within their teams. There are numerous options to incorporate discussions as well as share knowledge through socialistic hubs and customized enterprise social networks provide an array of channels to do so — here’s a few companies using ESN effectively:

  • IBM created Beehive — an internal social networking site that gives IBMers a “rich connection to the people they work with” on both a personal and a professional level
  • HP created OneHP — employees are finding it easier to collaborate, communicate, and share knowledge
  • Telus rolled out SAP Jam — between the launch of Jam and present day at Telus, engagement rose to 85 percent

The Rise of the Enterprise Social Networks report not only outlines the evolution but also identifies the value:

 

An average 3% to 5% return on social engagement. The most engaged businesses
are reporting a calculated 7.7% business impact. The lowest performers achieved
a 1.9% estimated return.

Improved marketing and sales effectiveness. The top two areas where executives
thought social engagement had real value were improved marketing and sales
effectiveness (84%) and increased sales and market share (81%).

New ideas for products. 57% realized big returns either by crowd sourcing new
products or letting customers know new products will be derived from future
social engagement.

Learning the functionality of the organization’s ESN will drive online interactions to create trust, foster group dynamics, build connections and influence positive experiences as well as develop leadership transparency. But why?  Companies are shifting from the ‘static intranet’ to a new ‘social business tool’ — the world is moving toward transparency and openness combined with ease of accessibility to information. To draw in on the evolution of communicating, organizations are redesigning and filtering out complexity —  it will take time for employees to adopt and reap the value but the benefits will begin to reveal an increase in workplace productivity and virtual collaboration.

In closing, McKinsey & Company, states:

By following a few simple principles, leaders can realize the vast potential of social technologies to engage employees and transform organizations.

 

Social Business Engagement and Responsible Online Activity

Keeping in mind that posting content and images online remains indefinitely, it is of utmost importance to apply a professional mindset at all times when actively engaging and networking in all social media channels. Participating in live real-time conversations requires a positive collaborative voice even when negative comments and/or statements adversely strike against the company’s brand.

There are multiple examples of social media policies and guidelines of top brands to refer to in order to gauge the principles and rules of participating in and delivering social media content. Here’s a few to browse through:

Coca Cola — Countless conversations take place online about Coca-Cola every day, and we want our Company’s more than 150,000 associates in more than 200 countries to join those conversations, represent our Company, and share the optimistic and positive spirits of our brands.

IBM — Online collaboration platforms are fundamentally changing the way IBMers work and engage with each other, clients and partners.

Walmart — We engage with our customers and stakeholders beyond the walls of our stores: you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Foursquare.

Social business goes beyond “liking” content and will reap the benefits of collaborating when a S.O.C.I.A.L plan or a cycle is implemented. This infographic visually outlines not only the benefits but also the importance of being social.

Furthermore, without the resources and tools to properly engage and deliver online content, company’s take a risk of their associate’s posting information and/or a statement that would adversely impact their brand. Tom Gimbel of LaSalle Networks advises hiring managers to do their homework on social media:

“Look for [a candidate’s] overall interaction and communication,” he suggests. Between sharing relevant, industry-related content and having followers split between personal and professional, they should project an overall level of engagement.

“People who truly understand social media realize that the sole purpose is not just for sharing content, it’s about expanding networks by connecting and interacting with people,” he contends.

In addition to going beyond the traditional “like” or “favorite” activity, it is imperative for the brand social media manager to demonstrate a high degree of active web listening — resulting in ongoing dialogue with customers and driving influence beyond borders.

The online networking approach takes a fundamental shift in engaging with customers and Inc. shares tips and best practices in “The New Rules of Customer Engagement” — below is an excerpt from the article

The rise of the social Web has led to a fundamental shift in the way businesses of all sizes engage with their customers. Rather than focusing on “touch points” during the marketing and sales process, they’re using social technologies to form meaningful, ongoing relationships that involve frequent online interactions, oftentimes through social channels.

Overall, the social business engagement concept is not that hard once best practices and guidelines are established with all those who are involved with maintaining a social media presence for the company!

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