4 Elements of Enterprise Social Networking

By Andy Steggles posted Apr 21, 2013 09:21 PM


Social Networking in the Enterprise

Over the past few years, I've seen a myriad of uses of "social in the enterprise". Every business is different and each needs to identify the most relevant opportunities for their organization.  The following is a high level overview of the four key elements which I've discovered most businesses can easily recognize one or more key opportunities for their enterprise.

Public Social Media (Ps)

Since most businesses are already leveraging the public social media outlets, i'm not going to go into this, but thought it should be mentioned as it is one of the 4 core social media elements which organizations should consider.

SocialCRM (Sc)

“Social CRM” is a phrase that is used almost as often as “the cloud,” but what exactly is Social CRM? According to Gartner it’s a “business strategy” but what does that mean? Social CRM is one of many elements in the social space that organizations can leverage.  To determine which area of social is right for your organization, take a look at the following social quadrants:

In the first quadrant we see public social media. This is essentially an outreach and brand awareness tool for organizations. Many organizations are already leveraging this via Facebook page(s), Twitter hashtags and LinkedIn groups. There are many more opportunities than this, but the important thing is that it’s an outreach tool.

Social CRM is another, more focused area of social. An example of this is an organization that is listening to the social web and automatically pulling in relevant information from customers and prospects, and attaching that information to their respective account inside of your CRM.  A simple example of this is when a customer tweets something that mentions your organization’s hashtag or Twitter account, and so it automatically is pulled into your CRM and attached to the individual record. You might have workflow in place to automatically route to the communications department so they can view and respond. Before doing so however, the communications staff gets to see who the customer is, the products they have purchased and potentially any product or service reviews they may have written. They may also see how much “Klout” the customer/prospect has (Klout is a way of measuring a person’s social influence).

Another example is when a prospect posts a message to your LinkedIn group. This might be routed to the sales department, which can then see mutual friends as well as show an overview of the person’s interests, etc.  It may turn out that he or she is friends with several other happy customers. This gives your sales person a few common touch points to connect with and ideally sell or upsell the prospect. (Of course you have to be a little careful with this since you don’t want to come across as a stalker.)

Social Software in the Workplace (Sw)

Social Software in the Workplace is usually leveraged by much larger organizations and is becoming increasingly popular with SME’s. For example, Deloitte recently implemented a social solution to help with knowledge and talent management. Considering Deloitte has about 200,000 employees around the world, it’s no wonder the company is trying to improve internal communication and collaboration. By implementing social in a way that is not intrusive, yet always available with no additional effort (such as activity feeds always present on the desktop), companies have an opportunity to reduce costs by improving efficiency.

Externally Facing Social Software (Es)

Externally Facing Social Software probably holds the most potential for customer-centric organizations. This is an opportunity to get your constituents engaged.  Conceptually this is very much like the “social software in the workplace” but it focuses on prospects and customers vs. staff. For example, some organizations already provide some kind of customer-to-customer collaboration software such as a listserv or online forum; some allow them to find and connect with each other or perhaps share files.  Now considering wrapping all this into one comprehensive, knowledge management focused online community (a private version of LinkedIn which fully integrates into your CRM). The end result can be a valuable customer proposition which can disrupt and even replace what customers have traditionally recognized as your most valuable services. Online collaboration does not suffer from the same limitations as in-person networking and collaboration, indeed there is no time and location restrictions and any customer could potentially participate at any time from any location.

One of the often overlooked benefits of this type of the engagement is the ability to measure.  Typically, any and all online engagement in a community platform is measured in a way which allows the organization to benchmark its success and ultimately, its relevance to its customers. Many organizations are heading in this direction, realizing there are many emerging opportunities to get customers engaged using an online medium while at the same time demonstrating a new level of transparency and authenticity. Higher Logic is a good example of this.  By allowing customers to network together and ask each other questions about our software, we’ve recognized a direct, 70% reduction in support costs with an improved net promoter score.

Identify Your Social Elements

So now you understand the core social quadrants, which are you more interested in: Outreach (the public networks), listening (social CRM), employee focused social (improving efficiency within the org) or externally facing social software (improving transparency; reducing operating costs; building customer loyalty and enhancing the sense of community)?