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Cloud Talk

Andre Yee

How To Succeed With Social Media

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Admittedly, my last post - Web 2.0 is Dead - was a little tongue-in-cheek. The reality is that Web 2.0 is now so mainstream, we're moving away from thinking of it as a discrete technology segment. In fact, the social media component of Web 2.0 (wikis, blogs, social sites, etc..) is not only alive but actually thriving.

More importantly, per my post on 2009 predictions, businesses are starting to figure out social media - the business case for social media, how to measure effectiveness as well as what works and what doesn't. On that last point, McKinsey released an interesting article entitled Six Ways to Make Web 2.0 Work. It specifically calls out "lessons learned" on how to make social media strategies work for corporations.

Here are the six lessons with my commentary added -

Transformation to a bottom up culture needs help from the top
No surprise here - Web 2.0/social media is driven by grassroots participation but getting it work in a corporate environment requires sponsorship, endorsement and encouragement from the executive suite.

Best uses come from users - but they require help to scale
The main point here is that in the "old world" model, applications to improve productivity are dictated from top down with a high investment, high risk model for success. In the Web 2.0 model, end users try out technologies to determine what works and what doesn't before scaling up. Senior management can help by sponsoring successful uses and helping it scale corporate wide.

What's in the workflow is what's used
Social media or Web 2.0 strategies that aren't aligned with business workflow tend not to work because it's viewed as simply another channel for "more work"

Appeal to participants' egos and needs - and not just their wallets
You cannot buy/bribe your way to social media participation. Companies that try to pay employees to participate often find that quality of the social media content suffers

The right solution comes from the right participants
Targeting and qualifying a specific group for participation is essential to building critical mass and momentum behind your initiatives. It's not enough to just "sow to the wind" and wish for the best.

Balance the top-down, and self management of risk
Social media is about decentralization and self organization which is antithetical to the idea of management control. This tension leads to questions of liability, governance and risk management. There is no single "right" answer - each organization needs to figure out the right risk management strategy depending on its appetite for risk

What are your experiences with making social media work in your organization?
What's the right way to measure social media success?
Read the entire McKinsey article here


stpioc - thanks for stopping by. I like what you said in your post about not focusing on shiny new technologies but on collaboration. I look forward to reading more from you.

I'm especially interested in the idea about making social media part of the workflow. That has been the biggest challenge I've seen with implementing a social media strategy inside an organization.

Marcus - thanks for your thoughts. I think your work with High Calling is one of the most advanced social media initiatives in the non-profit world.

I do know that whenever you're driving adoption or use of technology, your chances of being successful are reduced if you require the user to change the way they work... or if you require a change in workflow. So this idea that social media has to be useful within an existing workflow is critical.

Andre Yee blogs about cloud computing, SaaS, Web 2.0 and other emerging technologies that matter to businesses.

Andre Yee

Andre Yee is an entrepreneur and technologist with nearly 20 years of experience in the business of technology.

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