Note: This article was first published in 2012.
The first step toward a successful social media deployment requires getting buy-in from key stakeholders within the organization. Unlike with many other types of technology, these stakeholders will not be limited to IT or the CFO or even a single line of business (as might be the case, for instance, with productivity or customer relationship management (CRM) software).
To ensure the business actually makes the transformation from one that focuses on individual performance to one that stresses collaboration and social connections, everyone from the CEO to entry-level employees must embrace the change to a social business. And the best way to get them to do that is to involve them in the process from the start.
Remember, you are trying to turn your business into a social one; that means, by its very definition, that you want to engage employees at every level of the organization, and tap into their skills and experience.
You will need sign-off from higher-ups to get the right technology in place, of course. But you will also need leadership to change its approach to corporate culture, employee goals, definitions of productivity, customer relationship management, and so on. The change should include instilling a virtual “open door” policy that encourages employees at every level of the organization to engage with executive management, and vice-versa.
Explain to execs that they will need to take the lead on social, actively using the technology to share information and embrace new ideas. If the C-suite is not committed to becoming a social business, the transformation simply will not take place.
The tech team will be integral to the deployment process, and they will be required to integrate social media tools with other business technology already in place in the organization. They will also be in the best position to evaluate costs, as well as management and training requirements for any new software or services.
3. LOB Managers
Social media has the power to change how business gets done—so line-of-business managers must be involved from the beginning to help define and shape those changes. Being on the front lines, they know the current gaps in business processes and should be actively involved in finding ways to improve them through social collaboration. They will also need to weigh in on any management changes to employee expectations, drivers and compensation.
Human resources can be an excellent resource for management when it comes time to literally change the ways in which employees are motivated and compensated, as well as setting appropriate policies around the use of social media within the organization. This is especially true for highly regulated industries. HR should also be involved in training on the new technology, especially when it comes to the social and cultural mores around its use.
Since it is the workers who will be expected to actually use any social media tools that are deployed, they must buy into the overall goals of any social media project.
No company can transform itself into a social business overnight, but the sooner employees get on board to use new technology to change the way they work, day in and day out, the sooner those changes will take global effect and deliver measurable results.
Furthermore, many of your employees have been using social media for a long time now, with or without your knowledge and consent. The upside to this is they have already developed a set of best practices and daily tasks that you can leverage to improve the business overall, by implementing them across the organization.
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