How To Succeed As A Social Business Sponsor

Follow these five steps to become a more effective leader and seamlessly shape your company into a social business.

Vala Afshar, Contributor

November 25, 2013

3 Min Read

3. Launch it
Now that you have conceptualized a vision and gained the unwavering commitment from executive staff, you are ready to plan the program rollout. Launching at an all-hands company meeting or via video conference can demonstrate just how important the program is. It shows that the commitment comes from the top and highlights how everyone is expected to participate.

During the launch event, emphasize a "social first" attitude. The social tools and processes are much more than just "nice to have." Get people away from turning to email first. As the organization's leaders and innovators shift their communications from email to social tools such as Chatter, Twitter, and messaging, others will see the benefits and follow suit.

Use the launch event to articulate the tangible benefits of becoming a social business and set milestones. Include a schedule for follow-up training consisting of both prime-time sessions during regular business hours that reinforce the importance of the project, as well as lunch-and-learns.

4. Lead the charge 
As executive sponsor, you will need to continually articulate and track the benefits. Ideally, the results can be automatically updated daily in the form of a real-time dashboard and should be visible to everyone. Show the alignment of social to business initiatives and growth drivers. Make the value unquestionable, both in the short term and the long term.

"Getting employees to adopt social tools is not like getting them to use the newest update to a word-processing program," the MIT Sloan Management Review said in an article. "Adopting social technologies can often mean changing the way people work, and that means leaders need to invest time and effort in explaining the purpose and value of the new tools."

Take on the role of social business compass. Follow the advice of Mahatma Gandhi who said: "My life is my message." Be accessible, visible, and approachable to executives and other staff who might have questions, concerns, or suggestions. Call attention to successes with personal praise, posts, and awards; business author Tom Peters recommends that you "celebrate what you want to see more of."

As executive sponsor, you'll need to be enticing, cajoling, rewarding, and sometimes even forceful. Use all of your 25 powers of influence to spread social business practices throughout your company and watch the momentum build.

5. Scale and amplify
Finally, expand the use of social processes both inside and outside the business. Spread the scope of your social business into your company's ecosystem. Use your social media tools to get closer to both customers and suppliers. Remember that people want to buy from people, not robots -- that is an important reason why you are a social business. Social communications should reflect the personalities of the individuals as well as the culture of the business. 

Show that the social business activities create a sustainable model and improve profitability.

Demonstrate your passion and always stay positive. Ultimately, if you are successful as executive sponsor, social will become embedded as an integral part of the way your company does business.

Consumerization 1.0 was "we don't need IT." Today we need IT to bridge the gap between consumer and business tech. Also in the Consumerization 2.0 issue of InformationWeek: Stop worrying about the role of the CIO. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Vala Afshar


Vala Afshar is the CMO and Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys Networks, responsible for global marketing and customer service and support operations. An award-winning inventor of social technologies and customer services operations, Afshar is considered a pioneer in cloud computing, social collaboration, business intelligence and customer relationship management. Afshar is also the author of The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence.

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