Social media is a cultural thing
During my time at CMI I've lost count of the number of people that think 'doing' social media is as simple as putting up a profile on Twitter or creating a Facebook page.
It's like folks have literally taken Fields of Dreams to heart. In social media however, building it is not enough to ensure that people come. Indeed setting up profiles on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn is the very first step on a long road to creating a social business.
To truly become a social business you need to create a social culture. Gone are the days when you can ban staff from using social media for fear that it will suck the productivity out of them. You should be utilising social tools both internally and externally to allow staff to interact both with each other and with external stakeholders.
The nirvana for social business isn't having yet another platform to hawk your wares. The nirvana is having such engagement with your customers that they are literally co-creating your products with you.
To achieve this you can't afford to restrict social media usage to employees personal lives, or force them to sneak a look behind the bosses back like it's a clandestine activity.
You should provide social communication tools to allow staff to interact with each other. Adopting this social culture means staff communicate across organisational and geographical divides, creating new products and responding to problems.
Such employee led management is anethma to traditional Taylorist command and control but in a complex world it is the only way that your organisation can adapt to the changes it faces. If you have good employees it is almost certain that they will know more about the state of the market than you will, it's your job to empower and support them, not restrict and control them.
Here’s the trick with social business: Focus on people and culture. People are naturally social, so whereas so much of modern management asks us to go against our natural behaviour, adopting a social culture taps into it like no other. Utilisation of social tools merely taps into our natural creativity and desire to form communities of like minded individuals.
Used properly they can allow employees to network with others both internally and externally to get their job done better than ever before. If you can empower them with the trust and belief that what they're doing is right then you unleash the intelligence and creativity from within them.
Of course creating a social culture is not easy, it requires a fundamental shift in thinking. You need to let go of control and trust your employees to be the great human beings you thought they were when you hired them. Treat them like adults, empower them to do great things, enable them to form a social business.