Corporate Social Media - The Mistakes You Should Avoid!

While reading some stuff about Corporate Social Media and its influence on today's organizations, I came across the below list of mistakes company's generally do while organizations try to travel the road to Enterprise 2.0.

Mistake 10: Overarchitecting the process. If there is one thing the consumerization of IT has taught us is that simplicity is the key to success. The social media suites are powerful and have lots of bells and whistles. If you try to use them all, the user is faced with an airplane dashboard, which is far from simple. Don't try to define collaboration, offer simple and easy-to-use mechanisms. More ornate structures will emerge if needed. 

Mistake 9: Going it alone. Enterprise 2.0 and social media are hot, hot, hot. IT departments are rightly leading the way in promoting adoption. But when a social media suite gets dumped on business users who have had no input, success rarely follows. The same thing is true when business users attempt to get collaboration going on consumer software without consulting IT. Both IT staff and businesspeople must work together.

Mistake 8: Lack of executive sponsorship. Getting a budget approved is one thing. Getting hundreds or thousands of people to change the way they do their jobs won't happen without a clear message from the top. If adoption of social media is seen as optional, it will not happen. Only executives can make clear that change is required.

Mistake 7: Failing to establish a starting point. Improving business outcomes is the ultimate goal of Enterprise 2.0. To tell whether an internal social media implementation has worked, you must know where you are starting from. How long does it take to do the important tasks? How frustrated are users with internal tools? If you measure at the beginning, you can tell if the implementation worked.

Mistake 6: Failing to establish specific goals. In most companies, key activities such as creating proposals, resolving customer complaints and creating designs for new products all have a collaborative element. Users will wonder why a social media platform is adopted unless you explain that the goal is something they can clearly understand, such as cutting the time and expense of creating a proposal in half or making sure 95 customer complaints are resolved in 24 hours.

Mistake 5: Not communicating with users. Throwing a social media platform at a company is rarely effective. When IT departments go it alone, this often happens. The arrival of new ways of collaboration must be accompanied by detailed explanations of what is expected of everyone involved. The explanations must not just be training but must be part of the user interface so that people can get answers while using the new technology. In addition, users must be able to ask questions, make suggestions and get a response.

Mistake 4: Not setting clear expectations with executives. Senior management may expect 100% adoption of a new platform when 60% adoption might be the most that can be expected given the roles of the company. Adoption goals and other measures of success must be mapped out in advance with executives so that a victory doesn't accidentally look like a defeat.

Mistake 3: Stopping change management too soon. Change management means educating, communicating, recognizing success and promoting cultural change. After implementation, these activities must be part of on-boarding new employees and must be reinforced for existing staff. Too often, companies forget to make use of social media a part of a company's DNA.

Mistake 2: Getting distracted by the shiny new thing. Applying social media and advanced collaboration technology inside a company is exciting. Much is written about the latest developments in both technology and best practices. Enthusiasm for breaking new ground can work against focusing on the application of well-established and less exciting ways of making things work. This is especially true with respect to custom functionality. It is better to walk before running and do the simple useful thing rather than the complex magic trick.

Mistake 1: Not investing in community managers. Change takes energy. When adopting social media, the energy comes from two sources: end-users who are excited about solving long-simmering problems and community managers who are evangelists. End-users have a day job and it is a huge mistake to think that end-users alone can change a company's culture and successfully promote adoption in the long term. The day job of a community manager is making social media succeed, educating users, finding patterns of success, correcting mistakes, and in general, finding ways to expand the use of the platform. Community managers are not site administrators but agents of change. If you are spending money on software, you must spend money on change as well. Think of community managers as insurance that your technology investment will pay off.