Futurity media‘s Stewart Baines has posted a few interesting questions on his blog. My answers are long-winded, but I think there are rightfully so. This is a difficult subject, and writing short yet sensible answers would be a challenge (anyway, I’m renowned for not writing short answers so I might as well admit it point blank); hence my posting them on this blog and not in the comment section of his post, for readability’s sake.
note on transparency: Futirity media is a company that I do business with
Response to Stewart Baines on how to overcome barriers to successful enterprise social media implementation
Dear Stewart, thanks for posting this. In essence, it shows that you do understand the collaborative economy and your question — in itself — proves most of your other points wrong without having to go any further. Yet, I will add my 2 cents to all your points:
1. Can enterprises truly engage in social media without becoming “antisocial” organisations (argues Benjamin Ellis). Is this true? Is the profit motive inconsistent with sharing (which is intangible)?
This, in my mind, is a red herring. The motive for entrepreneurship — very seldom — is only profit. First and foremost, profit is a given (if you don’t do any, you are bound to go under), but it’s not the sole motivation for entrepreneurship; apperances can be deceptive. Examples abound: startup owners who relinquish a better pay or even don’t get any pay at all for several years (I have seen many not get any salary for up to 3 years). Cooperatives and mutuals (even though there has been a tendency to demutualise in Britain since 1996), not to mention socially motivated entrepreneurs like Godin in northern France in the late 19th century (many other examples exist, even today) or the Max Havelaar people and other fairtrade evangelists, as well as environmentally-driven entrepreneurs, and so on and so forth. I am not saying these people don’t want to make money. What I am arguing is the fact that their motivation isn’t money or profit or becoming grossly affluent, it’s more subtle than that. Secondly, a gift-based economy is the fuel for building communities, but not every company should go for community marketing. If what you do for a living is selling £10 oil-cloths on street markets, I am not sure your business should start a blog or a community website. In fact, I’m pretty certain it shouldn’t. Thirdly, giving away doesn’t mean that you have to give everything away. Fourthly, disclosure means openness. After all, we are marketeers and we have to be honest about it. Changing the way we do marketing (i.e. moving into neo-marketing) doesn’t mean we become philanthropists (or maybe, like the ragged-trousered philanthropists, our education means that we are part of that system anyway and cannot get away from it). Let’s be open about it. This is permission marketing, yet this is marketing. After all, people also need to buy things don’t they?
2. Should enterprise social media stay under the radar (with small projects) until you have an ROI and then roll-out extensively?
Social media projects are often started as grassroots projects and those are the best ones. ROI is another red herring. Do you mean that all projects that get implemented have an ROI?! Then what about corporate e-mail? Do you think this is a productivity tool? I don’t. Yet, this is a necessary evil, and yet few table the issue – barring a few exceptions – and mention we should get rid of corporate e-mail. Yet, I believe that social media has an ROI and I keep demonstrating it. But we are building the models as we go along. This is called innovation Stewart. When things get invented and you ask yourself the question “what could I do with this?” vs. “why would I need to do that?”
3. How do you identify social media champions in an organisation, how do you motivate them (without financial rewards)?
As far as I am concerned, mostly from the outside in. Social media champions are bound to be found in LinkedIn, Yammer, and their own blogs, and not the Corporate Intranet. As to rewards; I tried to set up an internal competition once and my idea was to thank and reward our bloggers for their contributions. It ended up in a feud, with some of the lesser contributors being disgruntled and our most frequent contributors criticising the prizes they got. Instead I decided not to replicate this experiment and give up the idea of rewarding bloggers other than thanking them for their contributions publicly and publicising their efforts across the company.
4. How do you get those with the most knowledge to share their knowledge when they are increasingly working to time sheets with minimum no. of billable hours? Surely those with “knowledge capital” are disinclined to convert this into “social capital”
What’s the point in becoming a leader of opinion? (real, not self-proclaimed) Champions who understand the things at stake don’t even ask the question for very long. Those who do ask the question over and over again never get to do anything. After a while though, it’s a good thing that social media work be recognised within the official remit of knowledge workers. After all, consultants are required to publish aren’t they? Why shouldn’t they publish on their company blog for the benefit of their clients as opposed to publishing on an obscure professional review read by peers who grant each other brownie points too easily. Clients and ecosystems are umpteen times more important than that!
5. If you can’t demonstrate ROI, will participating in social media ever be written into a job description?
I am not certain that there will be such a thing as Heads/VPs of Social Media within 5 years from now. It might make more sense to instill digital in all the other departments (press and public relations, advertising, etc). I understand that we have a long way to go however. I also suspect that social media trailblazers are merely showing the way forward, and once everyone has been evangelised and trained, they will move on to another job. After all, they are innovators, so they will focus on other things, one social media has moved into the mainstream. Please refer to that Buzz report article by Paul Dunay on the subject.
I believe things will evolve into 2 possible directions: firstly, either social media moves into the press and public relations, as is already the case with most US companies at the moment, which are part of SMBC. Secondly, social media could stay with the Web team, as is the case with us at Orange Business Services, as long as the team works cross organisationally in order to instill 360° spirit into all other marcoms initiatives (events, press relations, public relations, business intelligence, CRM, advertising etc). And I take it for certain that before 2015, the old-style corporate website will attract less than 20% of visits and that other sources (blogs, forums, community platforms, websites, web TV, web radio etc.) will gather over 80% of visits and 100% of conversations. To come back to your question, I don’t think there will be a VP of social media. But I may be wrong.
6. What happens to social networks in the enterprise, when you remove the champions (e.g. they move jobs) – do the networks collapse? (I’ve seen some evidence to suggest this does happen with immature networks.)
My whole job is to ascertain that this Social Media initiative does not end up being that of a few prominent players, let alone mine. It has to be part of a company process or otherwise it’ll disappear.
7. How do you measure the value of enterprise social media in terms of marketing/PR terms, particulalry in B2B space? My point is that traditional B2B marketing was all about segmentation based on job title, location etc. Social media is so scattergun, and your audience typically doesn’t fit the segmented target audience (i.e you can hire an agency like Futurity to be your social media mouthpiece but what are you getting back for that, in terms of increased sales, or raised profile in your target audience.
This will be the primary focus of people like me in 2010. Tools exist, but dashboards will need to be built: Klout.com will give you an idea about how influential you are on twitter, blogs and company websites generate comments and discussions, Webleads tracker will let you identify your leadership and your most valuable content sections (even in real time), and even let you do lead generation (to an extent) by letting you know who is interested in what. Lead generation is something I do a lot of. But, as I use social media to attract people and generate interest, social media is only the spark in that process. Actual lead generation actually happens elsewhere, through resources like knowledge centres and newsletters. What social media does is turn yourself into an affiliate without having to spend £150 on each e-mail captured on a 3rd party website, but you won’t capture them on the social media platforms, you can’t do that. As a conclusion, there is a link between lead generation and social media, but I wouldn’t use social media as the primary source for lead generation. This is a subtle difference, but an important one at that because social media was not invented for companies to do business. Permission marketing is of the essence, even more so than on a traditional web platforms. Most marketeers are still struggling with that.
As a conclusion I would also say that I will be keynoting at Likeminds next week. We’ll have another chance to debate that subject in Exeter.
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