Social media has proven itself powerful enough to change the destiny of nations in recent times, eradicating entire countries’ political systems, and creating the momentum for drastic changes in entire regions. One in seven of the world’s population is on Facebook, and statistics for social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are on an exponential rise, illustrating social media’s high penetration rate as it increasingly becomes part and parcel of people’s daily lives. It’s not surprising that today’s business leaders are also seeking to leverage this momentum to seek a highly engaged workforce to support them in achieving their business growth strategies at a faster pace. Can internal social media networks, known as Enterprise Social Networks (ESN), potentially outshine their “public” twin and meet their objectives of fostering collaboration, communication and knowledge-sharing among employees, though?
Adopting ESN technologies in the workplace has been on the rise since 2011, according to Deloitte Telecommunications, Media and Technology yearly predictions studies. While the use of external social media platforms and social media strategies of companies have shown increasing success, with the ability to target clients based on their preferences and needs, the use of ESN in companies requires a wider look at the evolution of the firms into better social businesses, and the integration of the social aspect of the business with the digital one. Many a company has sought to emulate, through its enterprise social network, the success that the external social media platforms are witnessing. With time, more emphasis has been placed on the business than on the media, changing the platform from “social media” to “social business”. Social business is more about the integration of social media and social methodologies and processes into the organization and its day-to-day practices to build relationships and spark conversations within and without the organization, to creating value and driving impact to clients, talent and the business alike.
Findings from Deloitte’s fourth annual digital business study with MIT Sloan Management Review, Strategy, Not Technology, drives Digital Transformation, which included a global survey of more than 4,800 business executives across 27 industries and 129 countries reveal that the ability to digitally transform and reimagine a business is determined in large part by a clear digital strategy supported by leaders who foster a culture to change and reinvent their organizations. Accordingly, it is strategy, and not technology, that drives digital transformation in companies. This challenge requires companies to define the boundaries and draw the horizons of social media activity, laying out governance and risk structures that can alter as talent, as well as companies’ social and digital maturity, increases.
Internal communicators need to shift their focus from working on social media platforms in silos to developing a consistent and integrated content strategy that supports a cohesive digital and social strategy. Social media platforms should enhance talent experience and knowledge-sharing, while driving more business integration of mobile applications and intranets as well as social media channels and platforms.
While it is true that social media in the external world and ESN share many attributes, they have different mindsets, and different expectations arise out of each one. Business leaders should not necessarily ask “how socially engaged are my employees” but “how social and digital is my business”.
by: Elissar Hajj, senior manager, Brand and Communications, Deloitte Middle East
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