Social Business – Have Everyone in Mind


“We want to make office IT as good as the experience you have at home”

That’s what an IT Director at a former employer confessed to me. It’s perfectly understandable – the nature of an Enterprise means upgrading to the next version of Windows is usually an unfathomably protracted project. Therefore many organisations are years behind what’s now available on Amazon for the home.

To the bewilderment of many employees across the globe, when they power up their work computers they find Windows XP running an antiquated version of Office. Then the real fun starts when they venture online – their internet is pretty much broken thanks to IE6. Yes, IE6 – a 12 year old browser!

But don’t be too hasty to shake a fistful of blame at IT. I remember a frustrated Project Manager, tasked with propelling the firm to somewhere near to modern technological standards, sharing with me a Magna Carta of tools, web apps and internal systems that had to be upgraded before they were able to move to the next browser.

Social Business is for Everyone

Aside from the clear obstacles upgrading IT to home standards throws your way – there is another key message from the IT Director’s dream: In order for technology to be adopted across the enterprise it needs to be as easy to use as what you would find at home.

So how does this apply to Social Business? Your employees need a platform that is powerful to support a socially empowered enterprise but is accessible for everyone.

If the platform you choose to support a social business is too complicated your workforce are likely to give it a go, get confused and probably run away. Failure to drive adoption of a social management platform will see employees gravitate towards using native Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter clients, because it’s so much easier for them. But the dangers for companies allowing that kind of access are clear:

  • Lack of security, with passwords on spread sheets in all kinds of places
  • Accountability or archiving is much more difficult
  • There is no way to know who is responding to queries

And don’t forget – you will have wasted your company a lot of time and money if they don’t use it.

Holding hands

Training is another major roadblock to the social enterprise – it costs a lot of money, takes a great deal of time and is difficult to scale. No matter how intelligent lawyers, accountants, store managers, the c-suite or whoever the faces of your brand are – do not overestimate their technological knowledge. You really need to guide these people through a mixture of training and follow up – both online and person to person.

Before I trained anyone face to face, I’d ensure they get certified through HootSuite University so they learn the basics of the platform and social media, and then we could focus on higher level details of their new socially empowered working life. Another approach is to train a group and then leave them with an e-learning platform for homework. Combining these two methods means you can scale training across an organisation at a much faster pace and help reduce churn on your social media management platform.

There’s also place for purely online training – especially powerful when you want your employees to abide by your company’s social media policies or engage in a way that’s acceptable to your bran. For this, find an e-learning platform that allows you to track completion across the organisation, have clear links to your policy documents and guidelines and make sure that completing the course is mandatory for everyone.

What you should think about

So the three main (and very high level) things I’d look at when considering what tool to use to support your social business strategy:

  1. Consider a tool that allows you to scale social business across an entire organisation
  2. Ensure that tool is easy to use and accessible for everyone
  3. Plan how you’re going to train a large number of people with often limited understanding of social media and its impact on their business life