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Over the upcoming weeks, I will give some insights on the pitfalls and remedies in the context of introducing and using social media within a company. This part deals with requirements and needed mind-sets.

The application and target group focus shifts when one settles blogs and social networks in the field of corporate communications. Firstly, the sense of mission is far higher and communication professionals are more affiliate and trained to interact in a social media environment than the average employee. The level of communication professionalism is much higher and the control of content is much stricter because they influence directly customer perception of the company. Having such a level of communication governance is not possible with available efforts when social media is deployed internally. The successful introduction of corporate social media policies therefore requires different methods and approaches.

Social networks are a prominent theme for businesses. This shows a growth rate of 42.4% in the area of corporate social software [IDC2012]. Nevertheless, there is a risk to lose yourself in a structure made of buzz words and not asking the really important questions in connection with wikis, blogs and social networks: who should use these tools? Who creates, maintains and develops content? How can the usage be as simple as possible? And most importantly: How do I integrate these tools into my existing processes?

One of the greatest dangers for the failure of social media concepts in the corporate context is to maintain the same habits and approaches in handling information and human interaction as they already exist in the company. An example of this are mailing lists. These lists were and are traditionally used as a mono-directional information channel to send news to multiple recipients easily. A greater interaction is usually not desired, or quickly leads to a lack of overview of the topics discussed. Wikis or blogs are used in many cases just as a replacement for mailing lists. But if the internal corporate wikis and blogs are only used to replace internal mailing lists, the outdated mono-directional principle of information sharing is maintained and the situation has not improved or changed. The only change is in the medium of choice. A change in the sense of participation from an employee perspective cannot be expected. Wikis and blogs live from interactivity, sharing, and commenting. Furthermore, the concept of a selected circle, which receives information about a topic on the mailing list, is no longer accepted among employees. Access to information and the possibility to make a contribution, should be open to all interested employees.

The next blog entry will deal with the integration of “knowledge workers” and there expectations on social media in a corporate context.

[IDC2012] Fauscette, M. and Thompson, V.: Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012 – 2016 Forecast. IDC Publishing. 2012.