Ample evidence suggests that companies that have mature social business models in place are not only more productive but more profitable. I would suggest that these companies have done the single most important thing: They moved social business out of the marketing department. When you look at all the available departments to house social business, marketing requires the most mental and personality transformation.
As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, the term “social media” does a disservice to the field, because it assumes that marketing is where social networks garner the greatest value. This is true only in potential, but very few companies have figured out how to make the necessary major (and mostly internal) modifications to allow themselves to succeed. More often than not, power grabs, internal conflicts, institutional misunderstandings, and mass execution of solutions looking for problems sabotage that tremendous potential.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to use this precious little space to focus on where successful social businesses are executing brilliant plans to take the reins and succeed with social business activities stemming outside of marketing. The key to all of this success is multi-channel, interdisciplinary leadership. Today, I’m going to begin with human resources—often the front line of the battle for company reputation. In upcoming posts, I will focus on customer service, product development, and business intelligence.
Human Resources: The Front Line
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting with a marketing executive exploring a different angle for how social networks could benefit her company. Knowing its metrics, I know that this firm receives a significant portion of its traffic and page views via the employment and job pages. So we did a simple Google search for her firm’s name plus “jobs.” Even prior to the firm’s page being listed were several employer review sites, like Glassdoor.com.
When we visited Glassdoor, my client was less than impressed with her company’s reviews on the site, but she admitted that they were accurate. I suggested there’s an opportunity sitting right here in front of us. Clearly, a job seeker is going to Google her company. Are the negative reviews chasing away good people? If so, that has long-term bottom-line effects on a company.
The issue became clear: My marketing client has nothing to do with human resources. Her response was, “I don’t even know where to start.” And I get it, she has her own objectives, and none of them require her to walk down the hall to explore a business strategy with HR. Why? Because no one in her firm owns the social business. No one is connecting the dots.
Mature companies recognize that the front lines of their employee base and culture includes the voice of past and current employees. These folks should be encouraged to visit these company review sites and add their personal experience and flavor to the mix. If they don’t, then organizations are completely beholden to the naysayers, critics, and frankly, the purely disgruntled. This is no different than marketing and public relations departments saying, “What if people say bad things about us?” Well, what if? You don’t think they have outlets to do so? Are you just going to sit there and take it? Why the hell would you do that?
Start with LinkedIn
Give human resources complete control over your company’s LinkedIn page. LinkedIn isn’t a marketing destination—it’s a human resources one. LinkedIn has recently undergone a significant overhaul and now allows for many more robust features for companies to create elegant and resourceful pages. Human resources should create a LinkedIn profile with accurate contact information and a mission statement, but it should also cover more:
• Talk about the current culture of the organization
• Celebrate employees
• Speak to charitable or volunteer work in which the organization engages, and which elevates the profiles of leadership
• Promote recent news about the organization
Human resources should also provide counsel to internal employees for creating their own pages and let them describe the company in their own words.
The Question & The Challenge
It’s a very simple question, but who inside your company can make the call to turn over the company’s LinkedIn page to human resources? Shouldn’t be that big of a deal, right? But the answer may be difficult to come to. The VP of marketing? The CEO? Your answer to this simple question may reveal a higher-level challenge. If you’re struggling with the answer to who owns the social business and can navigate nimbly across the organization, then that’s an excellent opportunity to examine a new path to success. Again, the mature social companies have figured this out, and no one is immune.