by Nathan Egan
on January 29, 2013

Social Business: What’s In It For Me?

Last week, we examined how social business optimization (SBO) can help your company shape the long tail of your online brand by leveraging the employee-owned websites that position and reposition your corporate identity on daily basis. For medium to large size organizations, this could be thousands if not hundreds of thousands of sites.

The key ingredient in achieving this kind of success at scale, of course, is ensuring your employees understand and align their online presence to their real world business goals.  In order to do that, your company needs to address their inevitable question, “What’s in it for me?” Employees need to believe that adoption means that they are going to reach their goals more easily and do their jobs more efficiently, regardless of their role in your organization.

In an article for the Harvard Business Review blog last week, Jacques Bughin provided insights that indicate not many organizations are answering the “What’s in it for me?” question when it comes to social business. Bughin, a director at McKinsey & Company and one of the authors of the recent McKinsey Global Institute study, “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies,” offered these stats from the survey:

  • The untapped potential of social networks can increase employee productivity by 20-25%
  • ROI for any social technology becomes positive when 15-20% of employees adopt it
  • More than 50% of companies have failed to achieve this level of adoption

What is even more telling comes from two takeaways found deeper in the report about employee adoption. More often than not, employee usage of social software experiences an initial spike when introduced, followed by a downturn when excitement fades. And, if social technology is not made to be part of the workflow, employees won’t participate for long once pressures and deadlines from their “real jobs” materialize.

In short, what the McKinsey study has uncovered is a significant untapped potential in social technology use for business, driven in a large part by incomplete or failed employee adoption. Realizing this untapped potential is where social business optimization software excels, both by keeping engagement and excitement levels constant among employees and by integrating into their daily workflow in a productive way.

For example, approach a salesperson in your organization and suggest to them that strategic use of social networking tools will increase their leads and better their chances of closing a specific deal.  Any salesperson worth having on staff should already be on LinkedIn for this very purpose, but their effectiveness at achieving these goals is a different matter.  Navigating a tool like LinkedIn without social business optimization software is a challenge, essentially forcing that salesperson to consume and analyze waves of big data, apply that analysis to determine a strategy for targeting an opportunity, formulate and execute a plan, measure their success, and then decide how to replicate it with other opportunities. Even if all of these pieces come together successfully, the salesperson has no way to determine if they were as efficient and effective as possible, or if there were missed opportunities along the way that may have generated better leads or accelerated the deal. Additionally, in an environment where the discovery and management of online relationships is constantly changing, what worked once may not work again since there is no one-size-fits-all approach. How quickly will their excitement wane under these conditions? And if it’s not part of their workflow, how long will they stick with it if they’re not seeing immediate results?

However, with SBO software, this example looks completely different. Rather than guessing based on past experiences, the salesperson, or any type user for that matter, is guided on best practices that are specific to their unique role in their organization. Furthermore they have access to ongoing assessments, interactive tutorials, content libraries, and private, employee-only network mining tools to help them be as effective as possible when navigating social networks for business purposes. All of these different features and capabilities are integrated into their workflow, and produce tangible and measurable return on the time invested.

So what’s in it for you? The chance to do your job better, reach your goals more easily, and make more money…all within the social networks that you’re already using. That’s what social business has to offer and good SBO software will make this clear to the users from the start.

In our next blog entry, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of having a social “business” policy, not a social “media” policy.

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