Ten Tips for Selecting the Right Social Media

Posted 04-30-2013

Ten Tips for Selecting the Right Social Media

By Paul Hyman

CIOs who still consider social media “just a fad” need to become familiar with what the technologies can do for the enterprise, which is mainly improving collaboration and communication.

According to a recent McKinsey report, an average worker can spend an estimated 28 percent of their work week managing e-mail and nearly 20 percent looking for information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. But when companies use social media, a searchable record of knowledge can trim that time by as much as 35 percent.

CIOs who shun social media may be doing so out of fear of choosing the wrong technologies or not knowing how to use them well. Indeed, according to a survey of 2,100 corporations by the Harvard Business Review, just 12 percent believe they are using social media channels effectively.

“The truth is that you’re going to make mistakes,” says Darren Peirce, CTO of Boston-based Kalido, an information management company with such clients as Visa, Comcast and Fannie Mae. “People will share information they shouldn’t,” he explains, “or miss opportunities because they aren’t aware of where the boundaries are, especially between personal and professional usage. You need to develop a culture and an approach to dealing with social media. You can’t just take a playbook from someone else’s organization and follow it; you have to grow your own. At the end of the day, people evolve with how well they use social media.”

It all begins with selecting the appropriate social media platforms, which can range from the Big Four freemium services—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn—to enterprise-wide solutions that can cost tens of thousands of dollars per month.

CIO Insight interviewed three experts and learned that bringing social media into the enterprise ought to involve these 10 steps:

·         Learn what’s going on. The best place to start is to become a social media user yourself and connect with other CIOs who have made the plunge. Start learning from them—and do it by using the tools themselves. If you’re not on any of the Big Four, you’re out of the loop.

·         Understand the goals of the enterprise. There’s a huge amount of information out there and if you don’t know where to focus, you can get lost very quickly. Knowing the goals will help you determine which platforms will work best.

·         Get buy-in from the top. If you don’t have support from senior leadership and, if after launch, top management doesn’t use the tools, it sends a message to everyone that social media isn’t important. Don’t let the leaders think that social media is for others and not for them.

·         Get buy-in from the bottom. End users should be invited into the decision-making process and into the demos so they are interested, eager and supportive when the program begins.

·         Partner with all the stakeholders. Invite representatives from at least IT, marketing, PR, customer support and operations into one room and form a centralized team. Meet frequently to discuss all the issues before deciding on a technology. This will minimize negative conflicts later on.

·         Do your due diligence. Use your in-house technical experts to look at the available social media tools and to try a few small pilot programs, perhaps in engineering or customer support. Review the results and determine how they sync with the goals of the enterprise.

·         Don’t ignore the infrastructure. The CIO is going to be responsible for archiving and maintaining all the content that’s produced, and so the mechanisms, like a server for an internally hosted blog, need to be in place as well as software, like Backupify, to back up Facebook and Twitter posts.

·         Provide training. Users need to be informed about the tools’ availability and their capabilities. Just because people know how to use, say, Facebook and Twitter for social collaboration doesn’t mean they know how to use them well in an enterprise situation.

·         Report and reward. CIOs need to measure and report on the results of the program, rewarding the people who use social media well and showcasing them as best-case examples.

·         Have reasonable expectations. Embrace a certain amount of uncertainty. It’s important to recognize that social media is a dynamic disruptive technology and, to embrace it, you need to give it a chance.

Ten Tips for Selecting the Right Social Media

William J. Ward, a social media professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, cites Wal-Mart as an excellent example of how the giant retailer uses its internal social network to improve employee satisfaction and efficiencies as well as its external social network to spread positive information to corporate partners and customers. [See this video for how Wal-Mart uses social media for change management.]

“This case study—and other good corporate examples like Ford, Dell, FedEx, IBM and Pepsi—proves that social media isn’t just an external marketing function,” Ward observes. “It’s internal as well, with customer service, HR, PR, advertising and marketing all benefiting from it, too.”

At Google, a portion of the bonus employees receive is based on their use of the company’s Google+ product in terms of social collaboration; if you work at Google and don’t use the product, it costs you money.

And at Salesforce.com, job candidates need to have a Klout Score of 35 or higher to be considered for a position, Ward says. “That’s a great example of holding people accountable for using social collaboration tools, rewarding those who do it well and penalizing those who don’t measure up.”

When Michael Brito, senior vice president of social business strategy at Edelman Digital, recommends to clients that they use social media internally, he says it is to enable the company to “collectively crowdsource all of the smart thinkers in the enterprise to promote product innovation, process improvement, and employee advocacy.”

And, Brito says, companies ought to consider leveraging the thought leadership of their engineers, scientists and product people by teaching them how to use social media, which can be externally good for the brand.

“If I want information on a new product, I want to learn from the people who build it. They are the ones I trust—not the marketing people who are trying to sell it to me (and I’m a marketing person),” Brito explains. “If you can enable that through technology, it’s a big plus for the enterprise.”

CIOs that ignore social media do so at their own peril, warns Syracuse University’s Ward.

“CIOs really can’t afford to miss out on the whole conversation,” he says. “Being out of the loop could eventually lead to their becoming irrelevant. CIOs who don’t use this technology are going to be replaced by CIOs who do. That should be an incentive right there.”


About the Author

Paul Hymanis a freelance technology writer and editor. He was an editor-in-chief at CMP Publications (now United Business Media) and currently reports for such publications as Communications of the ACM, IHS’ Electronics360, and CRM Magazine. See an archive of some of his stories.