So, we've looked at definitions and have now answered the question about why Social Networking is important, both from an external marketing perspective and as an internal information sharing and collaboration tool.
Next is whether an organization should entertain it in the first place. In his 2007 bestseller Groundswell, Josh Berman proposes 'a systematic approach to social (media) strategy'. It's called the POST Method. It breaks down like this:
People: Assess your customers' Social activities. As mentioned earlier this has to do with your organization's demographics and culture. A company full of Gen Y workers is, in general, more likely to adopt than one full of Boomers.
Objectives: Decide what you want to accomplish as an organization. Better collaboration? Better information capture and sharing? Also decide on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before you start. This drives the technology choice.
Strategy: Plan for how relationships with customers (in this case internal) will change. This is critical, particularly in a regulated environment. You have to plan for what could go wrong and mitigate it with safeguards.
Technology: Decide which Social applications to use. A common axiom here is 'don't let the technology tail wag the dog'. A good example is MOSS. It used to ship free with Windows. So, guess what? The IT guys played around with it, and to quote Greg: "spun it up and called it an ECM strategy". I recently completed an Enterprise Content Management engagement for a large Oil & Gas company. They literally had hundreds of SharePoint sites running. And the majority of business users had no idea where to look for information...
Let's look at a simple example. Where I work:
P: Mostly Gen Y with some Gen X. Open, collaborative culture. Everyone is on FaceBook, most are on Twitter. The leadership and senior client service and strategy folks can all Tweet on the company's behalf.
O: One objective was to improve internal communication in a secure environment. Another was to have a information repository that is editable and accessible to all - it was about knowledge capture, management and transfer.
S: The strategy was to get individual workers to keep their conversations internal and work-oriented and to have a one-stop shop for all information.
T: We implemented Pandion as our in-house IM application and it is heavily trafficked. Our internal wiki is in huge demand, particularly among our development team who use it as a code-base repository.
How do we know they are working? We measure.
This isn't rocket science, but it is a simple and elegant way to determine how Social Media fits into an organization's marketing mix as well as it's internal communication and collaboration strategy. After determining the 'if' it's now time to explore how we are going to go about it.