7 Elements Of A Successful Social Business

Social software and tools have made cross-functional collaboration easier than ever before, but beware cultural and philosophical barriers.

Vala Afshar, Contributor

July 22, 2013

4 Min Read

4. Trust Your People!

You have hired only trustworthy people, so trust them. Don't overanalyze corporate social collaboration guidelines. When you're trying to accomplish something revolutionary, it's best not to have too many variables, or you'll end up with analysis paralysis. Constraining interaction can have even worse consequences. Make sure everyone understands the concepts of the digital footprint and digital citizenship. A little awareness of these concepts goes a long way. There is some risk to eliminating filters and barriers, but the benefits of open collaboration outweigh these risks.

One of our early lessons involved senior management using Chatter to talk about non-work related subjects, including topics that showcased their personalities and interests. We came to realize that this was important. By bolstering employees' personal brands, you help bolster their work.

5. Implement And Drive Engagement With Social Tools.

Make social adoption a team sport. Create social collaboration functional groups. Every group has innovation leaders; pull them in early and enlist their help in engaging others. Try gamification techniques. Rethink your processes to include social tools. It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. Social businesses are agile, able to learn from their mistakes and pivot quickly.

At Enterasys, we wanted to use Salesforce Chatter to champion collaboration and promote the work of others. Our CEO, Chris Crowell, decided that the most important thing he could do to advocate collaboration was to share sales wins via Chatter. Chris would specifically name the salesperson and the customer and provide details about our sales victories. The entire company knew when we won, and the sense of pride and unity helped instill a positive attitude. Growth starts with this mindset.

To keep building momentum, provide "Lunch & Learns" or better yet, hold Google Hangouts for training on social media and collaborative software. Interactively delve into topics like the latest in social media tools and the art of tweeting and share best practices.

Enterasys uses a number of innovative social business activities to drive implementation. We hold frequent social "jams" built around Google Hangout to roll out new social initiatives. Trivia contests, where the responses must be submitted via Twitter, have helped increase employee engagement. We post tips and best social media practices to a wiki, which everyone can add to and edit. We are introducing "Flashback Thursdays," where we re-post past photos and blogs to reinforce earlier training.

6. Measure Adoption And Recognize Achievements.

Provide as much real-time feedback as possible. Analyze connections. See where it's working and where it's not. As Peter Drucker said, "What's measured improves." Let everyone know when assessments are coming so no one is surprised.

During our implementation, we wanted to measure adoption in order to promote the early adopters. The tracing and measurement became a vehicle to identify who was embracing collaboration. It was important for us to set the tone and manage the grassroots movement through positive intervention. Here is an example of the Chatter reporting dashboard.

Chatter dashboard

Chatter dashboard

As members of the executive management team, when an employee chats about something noteworthy, we made an effort to comment on it. "Hey, great post. Thanks for the insight; it sounds excellent." It is so simple and quick, and it's seen instantly by the social media mavens in our organization. This recognition bolsters the individual's behavior and reinforces the action for others in the business.

7. Passionately Embrace Change And Have Fun.

Social collaboration is a fantastic vehicle with which to personalize and humanize a business. The return on investment is enormous, boosting innovation through collaboration, automating or eliminating tedious tasks, and capturing insight that previously would have been lost. Enthusiasm is a key element in embracing the shift to social and it's contagious. So consider a different ROI: Return on interest. How much more productive and satisfied are your employees when you express interest in them and insure they operate in their smart state?

Always remember to have fun. If you are not having fun, then you need to reevaluate your approach.

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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