Going Social Inside-Out at Bluewolf
Communicating person-to-person via the Internet has similarities to learning a new language and getting used to a strange culture. It doesn't come naturally to everyone, especially in the context of business relationships. There's a certain amount of fear in taking the social step, so it makes sense that prior to engaging clients and customers, employees of a company should practice internally, where the benefits of social can open doors to new forms of collaboration.
Last year Bluewolf recognized that social media and interaction were evolving into an essential business practice and skill set, with respect to their client offerings. It was important to the company that all of its employees learn and understand how to use social tools effectively. Some employees were already fluent in social practice while others had managed to avoid much involvement with the technologies and skills that, until recently, had been regarded as optional.
The challenge - as it is in many businesses of all sizes - was to bring everyone in Bluewolf up to speed in a way that was non-threatening and engaging. It's always been the case that some people smoothly adopt social media and some hold back out of professional anxiety - their possible embarrassment or loss of status within the organization.
Natasha, who came on board at Bluewolf 18 months ago, manages Bluewolf's website content and has been driving this internal change management campaign around social collaboration. She proposed a learning and gamification program that offered incentives for taking steps into the internal social environment of the company.
As Natasha said, "Our Going Social program was started at the beginning of this year with two goals. One was to increase internal collaboration. More importantly it was about getting our employee base engaged. Engaged employees increase customer engagement."
The goal for each employee was to build a rich professional profile, accessible by all employees and managers, that would answer the question, "Who is this person and what should I know about her or him?"
"If we turn our employees into external thought leaders it raises the value of our brand as well as their personal brands," Natasha said, "We achieved buy-in from employees by helping them develop their own personal brands."
What did employees have to gain by participating? Natasha called it the WIIFM - What's In It For Me - question. The answer was, "Getting known internally, improving your reputation, gaining visibility."
The Going Social team asked employees-in-training, "What do you want to be known for?" The personal branding would serve the purpose of fulfilling that wish.
Going Social began with a 30-day case study using two of Bluewolf's senior consultants. In order to become better known in the company, each consultant set up a personal blog, engaged with communities outside of the company, shared their knowledge within the company and kept video diaries. Their profiles became models for the rest of the employees.
As SMBs and enterprise level companies confront the stark realities of social competency as a competitive factor, they will need to develop their own versions of Going Social - moving their activities into the increasingly social marketplace. Though the challenges to corporate cultures are many, the vast majority of businesses have no choice but to adapt.
Former SMT Senior Editor, currently a social media analyst/consultant. Now find me here as username Cliff Figallo.The quintessential online communities and social media veteran and expert. Founding director of The WELL, author of Hosting Web Communities ('98) and Building the Knowledge Management Network ('02).