Social media has had a dominant presence on the web for year and continues to play a vital part in business development. Companies have come to develop elaborate strategies for how to best integrate into the social stream because being social is no longer just an option. Those embracing the opportunity gain a competitive advantage, while those less prepared lose customers and internet traffic.
Why the need to be social exists is not clear-cut. It could be that being socially active on the web makes a website appear more transparent and trustworthy to the visitor. Or, that failing to conform to the social trend makes a website appear less legitimate and loses credibility in the visitor’s eye. Whatever the reasons are, social participation has become a standard. Virtually any company that understands social media, at the very least, equips their website for social signaling with a like button, a twitter feed, and a few other sharing outlets.
Social enterprises have many facets and every company has its own strategy. A well defined approach that most follow includes: creating company pages on several of the top social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.; monitoring the company’s social feed on those sites; and finally, participating by sharing news, stories, and relevant information.
The approach is fairly straightforward, but few companies follow through. Creating original content and stirring up a conversation around it can be difficult. Coming up with something interesting to share takes time and imagination and most companies don’t have the resources for this.
To get around the problem, companies should not only monitor and interact through social channels, but also reach out and collaborate with their employees – a company’s internal knowledge base. This level of social engagement doesn’t require an increase in spending, but rather a different approach to participation. By sharing its own wealth of internal knowledge, a company can become more social without the need for writers, marketing experts, and other expenses.
One way to generate social involvement is to leverage the internal knowledge base of the organization – the experience and expertise of all the employees, not just the marketing team, but other department too, from sales to customer support. Having employees contribute a small piece of insight from their field of knowledge generates fresh and interesting content that in turn stimulates social engagement.
For example, have a programmer write a few paragraphs about a trend in software development she has noticed or an online resource she relies on for work. Even if it doesn’t speak directly to the services you website provides this kind of knowledge is valuable (while employee input shouldn’t stray too far from topic, showing the company’s human side does not hurt). This approach provides an easy way for creating original content and encouraging social involvement.
In addition to making a company more socially engaging, opening the door for communication between employees and the public generates knowledge that can directly benefit the company. Consider setting up a community forum or a discussion board on your website – an actual knowledge base channel. Having employees participate in discussion will generate customer feedback and provide valuable insight as to how a company can improve its business – whether it concerns a product, service, user experience, or some other facet.
The idea that a business has to be customer centric should not stand in the way of being social. Social enterprises need to recognize the value of the knowledge inside as well as outside its walls and use it to their advantage. Mining the internal knowledge base generates socially engaging content and expands the company’s social image beyond its marketing department. At the same time, taking in outside knowledge by means of a forum, discussion board or a knowledge base portal provides advice that is backed, in one form or another, by customers and visitors to the website.