I once worked with a client who... well... freaked out because they were overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to start their social business project. After we all calmed down, though, we started.
Starting is the most important step you'll take.
Where did we start? With whatever was keeping them up at night. For them, this was trying to choose the right groups of end users to start with. Because, let's face it - however you start, that's how you continue. Those first users end up setting the tone and examples that others will follow.
Do you want #socbiz to be something folks do only when they have the time? (FYI: they'll never have the time.) Or, do you want it to be a critical part of how things get done inside/outside your organization?
Start with the right groups and processes.
Here's one way to figure out which groups or processes to start with.
Ask these questions:
1. Which groups or processes are "buzz-worthy"? These are those groups or processes that, when you're successful injecting social business behaviors into them, everyone else in your organization will notice and want some for themselves. The best places to look for these are in sales, call centers, R&D, engineering, consulting - basically, any group or process that ultimately makes the firm money, saves money, innovates faster, or satisfies customers better.
2. How do they do a particular process today, and what problems exist? This is when you want to document the "before shot" prior to doing your Social Business Extreme Makeover, if you will. You want to ask the people who know the process the best about how they find, connect, and collaborate with other people and content in order to enact that process, or, if it's a process they're not even doing yet, why it's important for them to do it going forward. You want to make a list of all the applications and events they use (hint: it'll likely be email, conference calls, instant messaging, and some knowledge management, collaboration or document management system). You'll also want to know what the problems are. For example, ask how long it takes customers, or sales reps, or customer service reps to get answers to questions; or how marketing finds and grows the number of brand ambassadors; or how inefficient collaboration with partners and customers is; or how many quality ideas are generated and refined by employees, partners and customers.
3. How would you do that process, using social business behaviors and technologies? This is where you need to first understand the capabilities of #socbiz software, and help your stakeholders understand the potential new way of doing things. They will have no idea what is possible, other than what they've experienced in public consumer social networks, which promote usage "when I have the time." You know better. If you're trying to change the way your organization works with #socbiz, then you need to focus on using it "because it's critical to how I do my work." For example, instead of emailing 3 people with a question, a sales rep can ask 3,000 by simply posting their question in your community - they'll likely get an answer faster from people they don't even know, and the community will vet the answer for correctness. You never get that in an email! Or, perhaps a customer can read questions and answers in your community, and never even need to call your call center. Maybe your employees, partners and customers can submit ideas and refine one another's concepts, vote them up or down, thus better prioritizing what your engineering team should focus on.
Once you get answers to these questions, you'll have a better idea of who to start your #socbiz project with to get early success.
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