Modern enterprises want their employees to “actively participate” in the company. The participation of the employees when things are developed and their actively being part of decisions is considered a positive asset and a necessary requirement for a secure future. Terms such as “democratic enterprise” are en vogue. Some even get enthusiastic about holocracy (Holokratie), which is a term I like to intentionally misspell as “holocrazy”.
Yet I have all the respect in the world for the underlying intensions. Just as I also very much appreciate the ideas about “Common Good Economy” (“Gemeinwohlökonomie” – for instance as initiated by Christian Felber). But how is an enterprise supposed to manage the necessary change?
As I see it, social media play an important role when it comes to trying to establish the culture of an enterprise – both internally and externally.
For change and modifications, communication at eye-level and an internal intranet that works a little like the well-known social media systems à la Facebook are an important requirement. Today, we also call these concepts “Corporate Social Media (CSM)“. Perhaps we will soon have an “SMO” on top of the SEO (search engine officer who is responsible for the search engine optimization) – with the SM, naturally, not being short for sado-maso, but for Social Media (Social Media Officer).
I am a little sceptic about a CSM who has been appointed from the top. The employees should initiate the transformation. The same is true for the very popular term CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). It is about how an enterprise can live up to “ethical expectations”. This is also one of the tings the basis must want and work towards.
You will immediately understand my scepticism about CSR initiated by leaders after, for instance, having read the books by Mr. Otfried Höffe. His books have become standard literature at universities in the ethics faculties. I have no idea why this is so, because, as I see it, the books contain poor material all the business students have to learn. They do not satisfy any philosophical requirements.
But then, I am an evil sceptic who even considers the valuable term BGM (company health management) ridiculous, regardless of it not even beginning with a “C”. Incidentally, I distrust abbreviations that start with a C as a matter of principle. This is not only in politics and not only when the C is for “Christian” or “Corporate”. I am also very cautious when it comes to all combinations and abbreviations that contain terms such as management, manager or officer.
But now let me write the constructive part of this article. I would like to show with the example of twitter how you can actually manage to make people inside an enterprise really enjoy the meaningful use of corporate social media addressing the world outside the firm. The motivation of the employees is joy and intrinsic, without any special incentives or such.
How to make an entire enterprise twitter and thus authentically demonstrate its strength in the network, at the same time showing its nice collection of great individualists and presenting them to the market?
As you can easily imagine, this cannot be done through centrally controlled marketing strategies that follow ancient concepts. The role of marketing is among the things that need to undergo drastic change. Virtues – and I do not mean new virtues – such as the subsidiarity principle that is based on trust and error tolerance must also be re-established.
Before I elaborate on the details, I would like to point out the difference between “collective enterprise twittering” and the “functional twittering” as it is done by the National Railway (Die Bahn@) or the Telekom with their twitter accounts (“Telekom hilft” @ – I tried it myself when I was in an emergency situation and it helped me a lot). It makes a lot of sense and is often a good way to get the attention of these enterprises when you have problems. And it is also often the only chance a user has of being heard when the hotline or other “normal” channels that should connect you with the enterprise fail.
For the enterprises, the use of these social media channels is quite beneficial, because it helps to release the burden of the expensive hotlines that by their constantly being busy already annoy the customers. And, as a general rule, good social media services can be offered much cheaper than the classic help desk.
But this has nothing to do with “corporate social media” as in “here, the employees twitter”.
In order to twitter collectively as an enterprise, the first thing you need is a shared twitter account that is used by many, ideally all, employees. Initially, a defined team should do the exemplary twittering for the enterprise on this account and maintain the account. In the long run, it is, of course, desirable that all the parties concerned share the maintenance work and responsibility for the account.
Perhaps such a team should also help with some advice and organizational assistance as to what sort of communication is supportive of the enterprise and what is not. But then, most employees have quite a good instinct when it comes to this issue.
Also, all office buildings should have a screen installed in rooms such as the entrée, meeting halls and kitchens. On these screens, a twitter wall (here is the example of the ActMobCmp-Twitter-Wall) with current tweets is running at all times. Because reading the tweets your friends and colleagues have written will whet your appetite and encourage you to do some twittering of your own. This is how activity and shared directing will start happening by itself.
In this article, I used “twittering” as a kind of metaphor (pars pro toto) for social media in general. With Facebook, Google+ or also a Corporate Blog, it is not much different. Thus, Corporate Twittering is a good way to start more social media activities. As soon as (almost) everybody is enthusiastic, you can also try “Corporate Blogging”.
(Translated by EG)
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