Getting the mindset right first
We all know resources are limited, so it is essential to know to prioritize. In this vein, one of the conundrums facing companies is to know whether they should focus first on their external social media marketing strategy (to get the business) or whether they should start internally, to implement “enterprise 2.0” tools*.
While business short-term pressures might push us to start with the external social media strategy, I would argue that one ought first to establish a successful internal collaborative “2.0” strategy and mindset. There are three vital reasons for this.
- Agility. While we might be lured by the opportunity to recruit new clients and capture new business via social media marketing and social commerce, being able to work smarter and faster (for example, for the all-important innovation cycle and time to market), these new collaborative “web 2.0” tools help to spark the necessary transformation. They are just tools, granted, but they require people to break their old “1.0” habits: storing and guarding information, slow responsiveness, working in silos, hidden expertises, and worst of all, being me-focused. [And, I might add that a good place to start, is making sure that telephone calls and emails are answered in a timely fashion as I wrote about in this post, Are We There Yet?]
- Coherence. As much for purposes of clarity and strength of message, coherence from inside-out is absolutely vital for another reason. The employee’s engagement in social media — whether internally or externally — is critical. I like to say that [company] politics is the inertia that comes from a gap between what is said and what is done. From a customer standpoint, this is considered failure to deliver. From a company standpoint, it is failure to execute. From an employee perspective, it is disrespectful. It is no longer advisable to have dissonance between Corporate communication, the employer brand message and the external commercial strategy. These three messages need to be aligned–of course, this does not mean that they need to be the same. Brand marketers are having to learn to be more transparent in communicating to customers [in real time] about the truth in eco-friendliness, brand ethics and health & safety. The same must go for the internal communications.
- Effectiveness. Last and by no means least, the effectiveness of an external social media strategy will thoroughly depend on the engagement and adeptness of the internal teams. In order for employees to be fully committed and engaged, they need to “feel” and live the experience. Otherwise, the message will start to sound to customers to be hollow, unauthentic and, ultimately, uninviting. Moreover, I firmly believe that the full participation of every level of the organization in one’s social media marketing is, ultimately, the best stance. However, there is no alternative to experience in social media. People need to practice, experiment, learn (and accept to trip up on occasion). Policies and protocols certainly need to be established (according to corporate cultures). Doing that experimentation internally is less dangerous than on the outside.
In the end, it is difficult to know when and how to launch these web 2.0 tools internally — and there is no telling that the external social media marketing and/or social commerce strategies will work. The path is going to be wonky. The tools are indeed different, but the mindset for succeeding in a social media strategy and Enterprise 2.0, is inalienably linked.
I welcome your thoughts!
*For the sake of this article, I have used the term “enterprise 2.0” to represent the use of collaborative tools inside the workplace (with employees, partners and suppliers) as opposed to the ‘external’ social media marketing. Technically, Enterprise 2.0 can encompass social media marketing as well.