Social media’s value proposition
It’s very easy to be distracted by shiny new objects, especially if they are accompanied with the promise to radically change the way we work, play and love. But make no mistake; social media is facilitating one of the biggest mind shifts since the industrial revolution and it’s here to stay. It is also becoming the hottest topic in the corporate conversation as companies look for ways to innovate, motivate and drive competitive advantage.
As a result, HR professionals are being pressured to assess, evaluate and implement social media strategies. But before we can fully leverage the promise of this new technology, we need to embrace an entirely new value proposition.
THE VALUE PROPOSITION
Technology has always been considered a tool to improve efficiency and productivity. But the value proposition of social media extends beyond productivity and into interactivity. In short it provides two-way access to the collective stream of knowledge, wisdom and consciousness, empowering humans to engage as sources of truth, collaboration and creativity. Most organisations, and in particular their IT and Marketing departments, have quickly realised social media as a way of building thought leadership, extending the brand and maintaining customer engagement, through conversations. The key things here are the words ‘conversation’ and ‘customer’. In many ways your employee can also be considered your customer worthy of conversation.
A ROADMAP FOR SUCCESS
To build a truly collaborative and valuedriven social experience, you need to weave social media into the very fabric of employee interactions. This means integrating with policy & process, performance & productivity, recognition & reward and, of course, learning & development.
Start by looking at your employer brand. There’s probably a conversation taking place somewhere that will affect your reputation as an employer. At a minimum, you should be listening to this and mitigating any brand risk. Ideally, you should be adding value and offering insight into your corporate culture. These conversations can be grouped into talent pools connecting you to potential job seekers. When interactivity is introduced, these transform into communities rather than just a list of names. Also, consider enlisting existing employees. They make the best brand advocates with a high level of trust and by tapping into their social network, you organically extend your current employee referral program into their social and professional connections.
You can also implement social media strategies that breathe life into policies & processes by offering employees real time feedback. Establish a forum or wiki where employees can add user experiences or answer a question and allow new employees to mix with established employees contributing and exchanging knowledge. By saving and analysing keywords and search criteria, you will identify position & location specific learning gaps.
Personally, the greatest opportunity for social media lies in L&D. Depending on the platform, you can deliver sustained, discrete chunks of information that can be absorbed in a relatively short time. In fact, research shows that tacit knowledge requires interaction. Social media connections provide that environment for dialogue, understanding and context. Furthermore, the next generation of employees will intuitively use social media to accomplish their work, often without consciously thinking about it. You can also extend virtual classrooms beyond teaching time allowing employees to connect before and after the course. This effectively creates a stronger support system and transforms traditional learning into an intelligent, autonomous and self-directed strategy.
Like any new technology, a successful outcome requires planning, policy and – in some cases – a shift from the traditional command and control mindset. Social technology is a “disruptive” technology, an innovation that creates new business value and potentially replaces other technologies in use. Companies must think strategically, plan deliberately, and implement thoroughly, if they expect social technology to deliver on the promise of innovation and employee engagement. And that means organisational
involvement in social media, at every level.