May 8, 2012
By: Scott Litman & Matt Meents, Managing Partners of Magnet 360
Social networks are everywhere. Our friends, family, customers, and employees all use them to communicate with each other, but few businesses are taking full advantage of their power to drive connections and collaboration. Social isn’t just Facebook and Twitter. It’s a powerful method of communication that has yet to be clearly defined, applied or valued in the business context. Therein lies the opportunity. Some of the confusion is in the name. IBM calls it “Social Business.” Salesforce.com calls it “Social Enterprise.” But they’re both talking about the same concept – the reality that Social is the next big thing revolutionizing the way businesses communicate. Like email in the 1990’s, Social is a game-changer. And the game is on.
At Magnet 360, we define a social business as one that uses networked platforms to connect people, processes and systems in order to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time. And we see that companies wisely leveraging social practices have the upper hand on how they communicate with customers, employees and partners – leading to better brand loyalty, competitive intelligence, innovation, and overall business insight. Social business practices are no longer optional. They are essential to business survival and growth.
So how do you make Social work for your business? You begin with an understanding of what a fully-developed social business looks like. At its base, a social business revolves around its own secure internal social network. At Magnet 360, we use Salesforce’s Chatter, which can be configured to meet the needs of most any enterprise and any user, all with complete security. Think Facebook, internally for your business. Users see a customized newsfeed of updates from colleagues, information from relevant business systems, and can follow key processes, opportunities or documents related to their job role.
It’s social and secure, with the ability to communicate from one-to-one, or one-to-many. Updates and sharing happen in real-time, and accountability is built in and easy to track. When it’s fully developed, an internal social network creates opportunities to drive collaboration between business units and collect data for business intelligence that were never previously available, or even imaginable.
Traditionally, when business people log into their tools and systems, they have to go find what they’re looking for. But the social business lets important content and information find the user, based on their profile and preferences. People jump in, share and communicate in ways that are impossible through email.
Consider the franchisee that mass-emails stellar sales results to 300 other franchisees. This feels like bragging. But take that same information and put it into a social status post, and the tone is completely different. Now, it feels like sharing. Some users may choose to browse past the comment, but those who engage can give it a “like”, compare their own results, comment back and forth, or share sales tactics. This is how collaboration works. And it’s how unexpected insights are developed.
Another important aspect of the social enterprise is that it breaks down silos. Virtual work groups help to drive engagement and accountability based on special projects, interests, roles, or regions. Users can connect based on any variety of shared attributes or assignments – and this kind of sharing creates huge benefit across the enterprise.
If this still seems a bit abstract, think of the ways families connect with Facebook. Social networks haven’t replaced family reunions, weekly phone calls or important emails, but they have enhanced those personal interactions by providing content-rich information. Facebook enriches relationships by increasing opportunities for interaction and providing regular insights into the lives of those you care about.
This kind of enrichment translates to the social business environment. Why wait for a quarterly or annual meeting to forge connections? A social business allows and encourages employees to be “all company” all the time. And the value of those connections can drive unexpected interactions between members, enhancing understanding across the enterprise. Employees, customers, partners, and suppliers can be connected, networked and collaborative – and processes can be customized, proactive and automated.
When it’s fully implemented, a social business generates real-time intelligence. Better yet, because all of these interactions are digital, they are measurable. Information and interactions build upon each other, making the entire organization more effective, efficient and successful.
A great example of this kind of intelligence is happening at Häagen-Dazs Shops (owned by Nestlé). When their domestic franchise unit asked us for a better way to communicate with corporate managers and local franchisees, Magnet 360 configured Chatter for collaboration between operations, marketing and store development – and integrated it with their Salesforce CRM for franchise management.
Today, when Häagen-Dazs Shops launches a new product or promotion, it’s posted in their Chatter feed, which is accessible to all internal users, across locations. Posts include photos and instructions, followed by comments from the stores, and even examples of what’s working and not working in the field. Best practices are being shared in real-time, long before the next quarterly report or national event. And because the Häagen-Dazs social network is tied to CRM, appropriate players also see numbers, open rates, and other available digital information, all displayed on the same screen. In many ways, it’s one-stop shopping for business intelligence. Any business can do what Häagen-Dazs has done, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming to get started. Here are some of the best practices that we frequently share with our clients as they embark on implementing social business practices:
1. Recognize that becoming a social business is a journey – taken one step at a time, and with a strategy that clearly articulates the business value and goals. As we tell our clients, “Don’t try to boil the ocean.”
2. Start at the point of highest value. If you’re not already social in your most profitable business unit, you should start there. Here’s why:
- You want to keep it the most profitable.
- It will likely have the most money available to invest in innovation.
- It may have the most opportunity for growth through social practices.
- It has eyeballs. Profitable business centers have the attention of key stakeholders and participants, which should help to reinforce participation, adoption, and ultimately drive social value.
3. Move to the point of lowest risk. After that first unit is up and running, and adoption and innovation are flying, we then suggest adding your most lagging business unit. Here’s why:
- This is where you’re likely to find the greatest opportunity for growth through increased efficiency.
- Success in previous social initiatives can help to fuel support and give attention to an area of the business that with any success could see great gains.
- It’s low risk. Make a modest investment and see what happens. If the results aren’t there, move on.
There’s a reason the consumer world is so social, and there’s a reason the enterprise should also be. Value. The business benefits of networked, collaborative people and processes are simply too good to miss. Put the tools in place to give your organization a one-stop hub for communication and information sharing, and you will be amazed by the interactions, efficiency and business insights it creates.