After a lot of thought and investigation, I’ve concluded that the people running around with visionary ideas about using the new social media inside companies are, well, charlatans.
There’s something dot-comesque about the whole thing. Social Networking as a phrase is 50 years old. Video phones have been available since the 1960s. And webcasts are nearly 20 years old! Well, 15 at least. Any limitation that is technological can be assumed to be overcome (eg bandwidth, firewalls). Folksonomy still has something fresh about it, it must be admitted. Others seem to agree, if indirectly.
The best internal communicators I know have always started with user centred/employee centric approaches and built engagement/community into how they communicate. Suddenly its being touted as a new “vision” or revolution.
It pisses me off, actually.
Maybe there is a somewhat cynical, slightly bitter theme evolving in this blog … that there are a lot of good engagement pros quietly delivering superb, beyond-best-practice solutions to clients — but not making much noise about it. Getting on with it, not trawling the conference circuit with a bag of old rope. Giving best advice to clients.
Maybe employee engagement people like me need to take a dose of our own advice and market our thinking a little better. I’ve been railing about marketers waltzing in to employee communications and how flawed that is … when in fact the reason they can waltz in and do it is because they know how to make the right noise in the right way to the right people. I know how to do it, of course, as well… there’s this book by Paul Arden. It, too, pisses me off though I love it. One of those books you pick up at the checkout counter as an impulse buy for £2.99. It’s a brilliantly deep, awesomely shallow book.
Anyway there are some great anecdotes — one about a hardworking architect who puts in long hours and does brilliant work. Another less-talented architect goes to conferences and hangs out at bars and his card has his name and the word “Architects”. Not “Architect.” Who has more credibility?
Maybe time to take a leaf from this book, nearly literally.
So back to new social media in the Corporate setting. First draft of my “it ain’t rocket science” approach.
1. Define business objectives. What is the benefit you want to achieve?
2. Identify up to 150 (no more, since this is the largest effective size of an “intimate” community) stakeholders.
3. Map who speaks to whom, how often, using what media, on what topics, etc. Analyse this and make a robust map of it.
4. Pick the top 3-5 things the community can best share in a virtual environment, and have the greatest impact on “real time” value add — that is, where can this community add the most benefit to their customers by more effective sharing of real-time information.
5. Determine existing technology — availability, opportunities and constraints.
6. Create a basic way to share the information using the right media. Everyone can contribute. Build in decision-making functions (e.g., internal marketplace thinking) as appropriate. Make sure it is usable.
7. Adjust and improve using experience.
[This process and content (c) Copyright 2006 by Kevin Keohane.] hahaha.