Strategies, Policies & Engagement

Background, Business, Social, Web 2.0

 

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Let’s talk, evolve and make some money

Web 2.0 is really doing some revolutionary things and I say this taking into consideration how it allows every individual involved in a business, be it executives, stakeholders, workers and consumers to engage with one another through social software. Never before, as far as I know, could a consumer chat directly to a business on a regular basis or voice their opinions about a product that helps businesses to make lucrative changes. Web 2.0 has certainly forged the way for businesses to move beyond simply listening and analysing their target markets to now connecting with their target market in a way that ultimately benefits their objectives, generates a return on investment and encourages a coming together of sorts. 

Social Media Strategy = Using technology to purposefully reinforce a business’ dealings.

Understanding the pressure society innately places on businesses to implement social media into their practices and how social media platforms can actually work to benefit a business’ equity, businesses should apply a strategic approach to their social engagement so that they not only achieve their profit seeking goals and triumph over their competitors but also connect with their audience in a more relevant way. Embracing platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn to connect internally and externally, businesses are able to function in a unique manner that challenges the status quo. 

When using social media theorist Larry Weber said that businesses should have a clear and strategic process that is “both linear and iterative. It starts with setting strategic goals for social engagement programs and continues sequentially through design, activation, and sustainment, followed by measurement and analytics.” In doing this a business can also avoid wasting time and public relation disasters.

Weber went on to say that one of the core notions (one that I genuinely love) a business should think about re social engagement is that “the spirit of establishing this group* is not to control social engagement. Rather, the goals are to foster collaboration, to share knowledge across functions, and to reduce enterprise’ processing and reacting times to enhance community engagement and strategy formulation and execution.” So as important as it is for businesses to rule their social engagement, making sure they’re not being portrayed inappropriately to the public, they also need to understand that social engagement is much bigger than their self-serving ideas. It is about using technology to eradicate information silos, embrace culture, and to be open, transparent, collaborative and innovative.

Social Business Strategy

According to analysts Carlene Li and Brian Solis, social business strategy is “the integration of social technologies and processes into business values, processes, and practices to build relationship and spark conversations inside and outside the organization, creating value and optimizing impact for customers and the business alike.” Ok, so in my mind a social business strategy is therefore an approach businesses use to incorporate social channels into their workflow so they can make stronger connections within their organisation and the outside world, including enhancing their social orientation.

The two strategies, social media and social business, are somewhat different. I’ve come to understand that the social media strategy focuses on the technology involved in a business’ strategy to become a social business. Solis explained that a social business strategy often gets confused with a social media strategy, yet they are rather two distinct approaches. He said the word “social” is merely a common attribute found in both strategies, “social is an adjective that describes the nature of channels, networks, or platforms that facilitate conversations online. When placed ahead of business, social articulates a philosophy or approach. In this case, “social business” is a philosophy; a way of business where social technologies supported by new approaches facilitate a more open, engaged, collaborative foundation for how we work.”

So…

  • Social media strategy = Technologically advanced platforms
  • Social business strategy = Philosophy
  • Together = Technologically advanced platforms are used to sustain philosophy

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Look at it this way

Awesome!

Elements of a Social Business Strategy

As discussed by Li and Silos, below are the six elements business’ need to exercise in order to grow socially.

  • Planning: Prepare themselves to listen and learn
  • Presence: Stake their claims and establish their aura within chosen social channels
  • Engagement: Understand that their conversations internally and externally via technology will deepen their relationships
  • Formalised: Organize their conversations to scale so that they have a coherent voice across platforms
  • Strategic: Become a social business by integrating technologies into their practices
  • Converged: Consider and appreciate their business as a social entity

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The maturity matrix

In layman terms I would say this is how a business can get their social media and social business strategies rolling…they need to:

  • Consider their core goals
  • Design measurable objectives
  • Identify their target market
  • Acknowledge their competition and what social engagement tactics they are using
  • Create effective key messages
  • Select suitable social channels, ones that would best reach their identified target market
  • Train their employees so that they are able to use social media safely
  • Monitor social engagement
  • Use social metrics to evaluate their online activity

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The way to do 1.0

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The way to go 1.1

The Success Factors of a Social Business Strategy

There are also seven success factors, according to Li and Silos (clever souls) that increases a business’ potential value when implemented and continued throughout the development stages of their social business strategy.

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Successful steps to take

 

*Those that support and carry out the social engagement process.

References:

Brian Solis. (2014). Q&A: The 7 Success Factors Of Social Business Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.briansolis.com/2014/05/qa-seven-success-factors-social-business-strategy/

Entrepreneur. (2016). How to Build a Social-Media Strategy That Works. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246085

 Weber, L. (2011). Building enterprise-wide engagement capability in Everywhere: Comprehensive digital business strategy for the social media era (pp. 59-86). Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

 

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Online Communities & CoPs

Background, Business, Future, Take action, Web 2.0

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I like this concept a lot…it encourages collaboration.

Online Communities

An online community is a virtual village. It is a group of people, a virtual team who connects online via today’s technologically advanced means and talk about topics that interest the group as whole. They primarily convene by the means of the Internet and those who desire to become a member usually have to sign up to a specific site or application* in order to play an active role in the community. Online communities can function as an information system where individuals can post, comment on discussions, offer their opinion and collaborate. Without at doubt this type of community totally evolved out of Web 2.0’s digitally connective nature. Don’t you think?

Communities of Practice (CoPs)

A Communities of Practice is essentially the key to elevating a business’ performance and is a powerful marketing tool. It involves networks of individuals “who share a concern or a passion for something they do” and who desire to “learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” CoPs are created by people who connect in the process of communal learning and in a shared domain of human endeavor for example, a group of foreigners learning to how to exist in a New Zealand or musicians who are keen on understanding how a new instrument works. However not all communities are CoP, we must remember this as CoP requires a form of intentional learning.

Educational theorist, Etienne Wenger believes that there are three characteristics that are crucial to a CoP to which they also help identify the difference between a community and CoP. He goes as far to say that before a community can even be viewed as a CoP they would need to adhere and display a combination of these three characteristics. Here you have them…

Domain: A CoP is not simply a group of friends but needs to be identified as being a community that has a shared domain of interest. The individuals in the group may not know one other personally but are connected and committed to one another through their mutual field of concern. Within a domain, members value their shared expertise and the ability to learn from one another.

Community: In sustaining their domain, members of a CoP need to come together and interact and learn from one another. Wenger said, “members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other; they care about their standing with each other.” The individuals in the community may not work together on a daily basis however what creates and supports their community is their joint learning and connectivity.

Practice: Those who are in a CoP are otherwise known as practitioners. So a CoP is not solely founded on a shared interest but also a shared practice, where members unite to develop a shared collection of resources such as past encounters, stories, tools and ways of addressing common problems. The exchange of information and shared experiences between practitioners is what undergirds their community.

Domain, community and practice are essential attributes that gives life to a CoP.

According to Wenger a CoP normally involves these kind of activities:

  • Problem solving
  • Request for information
  • Seeking experience
  • Reusing assets
  • Coordinating and interaction
  • Building an argument
  • Growing confidence
  • Discussing developments
  • Documenting projects
  • Visiting locations of interest
  • Mapping knowledge and identifying gaps
  • Creating new ideas

Looking at these activities…are you in CoP? I would have say that they are all really profitable actions because they all either create or sustain knowledge and in my eyes that is a good thing. I believe a society with healthful CoPs is a society full of life and creativity.

In my mind the core difference between an online community and a CoP is the way that they literally converse. You see those who belong to an online community don’t necessarily see each other face to face, whereas members of a CoP usually come together in person. However, as our lecturer David P best explained the “distinction between the terms ‘online communities’ and ‘communities of practice’ has blurred in recent times due in part to the explosion of online communities facilitated by social media technologies.” Technology and interactive platforms like social media applications have really shaken things up and that is why I honestly believe aspects of the CoP are slowly becoming irrelevant as they merge into the online community sphere and embrace more and more of Web 2.0 world. Wouldn’t you guys agree?

Benefits and Limitations

Online Community Benefits

  • Gives members the power to disseminated their messages globally and across the Internet
  • It is inclusive
  • Breeds and encourages acceptance, validation and sense of belonging It Expands Makes room for creativity and collaboration
  • Creates and expands conversations
  • Empowers all members and supports freedom of speech

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OC pros

 Online Community Limitations

  • There is a lack of face-to-face contact between members in an online community.
  • Members don’t really have an individual or personally identity, therefore it’s difficult for members in an online community to create genuine relationships with others in the group.
  • It’s challenging to build strong connections and commitment. With an online community members can miss out on the emotional bond that occurs when interacting in a physical space or when using tangible objects, thus making membership rather casual.

CoP Benefits

  • Allow employees to manage change
  • Provides access to new knowledge
  • Cultivates trust and a sense of common purpose
  • Adds value to professional lives
  • Creates knowledge and encourages skill development
  • Uses information management to drive strategy
  • Disseminate valuable information and transfer best practice
  • Initiate new lines of business including new products and services
  • Facilitate rapid responses to customer needs and problems
  • Decrease the learning curve for new employees
  • Help companies recruit and retain talent

CoP Limitations

  • Time Demands and constraints: In order for CoP to be successful and to reap the fruit from their conversations and actions they need time and sustained interaction.
  • Organisational Hierarchies: CoP within an organisation may contradict its actual intention to be informal and break down the walls of pride, intellect and power. Scholar Steven Kerno explained, “if the majority of individuals within an organization are more concerned with maintaining and adhering to the organization chart and its hierarchical ordering than with maximizing organizational performance…than the “status quo” will prevail and community of practice efforts are not likely to produce any substantive progress or benefits. Worse, they may be perceived as several previous organizational “fads” that failed to realize their potential.”
  • Culture: CoPs are a social design and so they reflect the wider social structures, institutional and national culture that they exist in. The result of this is that CoPs innately generate cultural differences** between organisational CoPs that may hinder their overall effectiveness.

On the whole, the benefits of a CoP truly validate its relevancy to a business strategy. Businesses can integrate and utilise a CoP to elevate their objectives, genuinely connect with their employees and train them in a more transparent manner that generates a healthy environment of sharing and learning information across hierarchal structures.

*Like a video game, blog or their work’s intranet site

**Conformity, individualism, social expectation and interactivity modes

References:

Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction

Kerno, S. (2008). Limitations of communities of practice. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 15, 69-77. Retrieved from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:OOmR3-r95CAJ:www.knowledgemobilization.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/8.-Limitations-of-Communities-of-Practice-.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

 McDermott, R. & Archibald, D. (Mar 2010). Harnessing your staff’s informal networks. Harvard Business Review, 88(3), 82-89. 

Mitchell, J., & Wood, S. (2001). Benefits of Communities of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.jma.com.au/upload/pages/communities-of-practice/c-of-p-benefits.pdf?1377489802