This week our Social Media and Community Management class had the pleasure of “hanging out” (in the Google+ sense) with Olivier Blanchard, author of “Social Media ROI” as we discussed various topics related to his book. Here is a paraphrased summary of two of the questions related to internal corporate social media implementation challenges.
Question: A recent Gartner study predicts that by 2016, 80% of enterprise social software efforts will fail. Are there different factors that cause internal enterprise social media adoption to succeed or fail compared to external social media? If so, could you explain these factors?
Olivier: One of the primary challenges of introducing social media to a corporation is that the existing dysfunctions of the organization work against it. The existing departmental silos, the inability to “play nice” and communicate across the silos is not magically corrected by implementing social media software. The culture of the corporation is not going to change fast enough on its own to allow social media to succeed in the organization. Ideally, the corporation should appoint a C-level or SVP-level internal Social Media czar with authority and support from the CEO. The Social Media czar would take a holistic approach building support and structure at the top of the organization for social media and integrate it down into the departmental silos from there. He/she would build a team of people with skills that cross existing silos, drawing from IT, Corporate Communications, etc. to provide a training and support function for social media. Once the support structure exists, the czar can then focus on each individual department, working to train a “hub” of resources within the department and develop successful applications of social media there. It is best to start with “customer facing” departments and work inward. Also, be careful in choosing your success metrics. Remember that measuring Social Media success must go beyond counting the number of “likes” and other simplistic measures; you have to be able to measure and translate your success into terms the business can understand.
My personal experience has been that there are definitely many ways to fail at social media. Recently our IT department rolled out the tools with great fanfare, but little training. The Marketing and HR department C-level executives are the most visible executive users of the tools and have developed the most thriving communities; many other departments appear to have little support from the top and seem be struggling. While the corporation is working diligently to become more agile, the barriers of the departmental silos, built up over decades, work against the implementation of social media and are difficult to overcome. This is compounded by the less than user-friendliness of the social media tools themselves, and the lack of modern features, chief among them, the mobility option.
Question:What issues do internal communities face that external communities don’t?
Olivier: The primary challenge is that most people have “better” things to do with their time, and don’t have the time (or energy) to fight the system. A technique I’ve used to create successful communities (and this works for internal and external communities) is to create “scarcity” to make people want to belong to the group. Start with a small “by invitation only” group, get the core group active, and make sure you have a small, but thriving community. Next, allow the group to start inviting a few others. Pretty soon, more and more people want to belong to the group. By restricting the number of invites you have created scarcity and a certain cachet that makes others want to join.
Hearing this reminded me of how badly I wanted to join Google+ and scrambling around trying to find someone who could get me an invite into the group. I certainly must say that this technique worked on me.