How does one go about evangelizing social media, inside an enterprise or externally? When it comes to inside the boundaries of an enterprise, there are various dimensions which decide the way social media gets adopted. However, IMHO a couple of them need to be focused on, as they play a slightly important role than others. One is the “formal training” of tools & benefits case for each member of the user group and the other is the “cultural aspect”. Here is how it looks like from where I see it.
The formal training of the identified (developed) social media tool is extremely important. Understanding the use of social media tools isn’t rocket science nevertheless considering the level of awareness that usually varies in any user group, it is recommended that a formal training is conducted for the entire audience which covers the basics. In addition it is also a good practice to have all the various demos, user-manuals and wiki-guides made available and easily accessible. The training needs to accommodate a part which clearly showcases a benefits case for every section of the user group. Usually, it is best to identify all the diverse user groups and understand what would get their attention (indicating relief for their pain-points). This will not only ensure easier adoption of the tool but will also make the training effective.
Coming to the other aspect of change management which is an even more important when it comes to social media. One needs to ensure that there is a right attitude and culture amongst the user group which will allow the optimal utilization of the tool. A technology/tool is effective only to the extent their users find it useful. During the deployment of any tool and specifically a social media one, it is vital to have change management as part of the process. One needs to get into the user’s shoes and explain him how this tool is NOT another top-down management decision, not one of those which will be come in the way of their daily routine at work, and in fact show them how they don’t explicitly have to do anything in particular which they probably wouldn’t like to. The best way to do so is set examples yourself that will demonstrate the benefits. Allow and accommodate the feedback and suggestions that the user group might provide in whatever format or approach. Present day (particularly in social media) ONE person or a small group of people cannot define the way a tool will be used. In fact, it’s added benefit when we get innovative ideas/suggestions from the user groups for the tool, which the developers had not even imagined earlier.
In short, the advent of social media tools has put increasing pressure on the culture/change management aspect in deploying a technology strategy. This translates into a specific need for SMEs who would evangelize social media (both technically and functionally). Change management function and evangelists have long been part of many an organization, but my guess is we are seeing a strong desire to have Social Media Evangelist playing a vital role in any enterprise. I have come across this “role” title per se but have never seen a formal job description that is standard across enterprises across industries. Not that I am of the opinion that we could/should have standard responsibilities for them, but we sure could settle to have a de facto standard that might be followed across enterprises with some space for customization/specialization. Also, in addition to the evangelists, we need a function in every enterprise which will act as a social media facilitation center. We need a Social Media League!
This social media league will not only facilitate the objective of an enterprise by enhancing collaboration amongst the silos in an enterprise, but will also lead to providing a methodology for new interactions with customers and channel partners. Social media league will transform the business model of an enterprise and benefit them from each step it takes in facilitating the social media cause.
Nikhil Nulkar is a knowledge management consultant within Capgemini and is passionate about web2.0 and social media. Want to know what he is up to? Follow him on Twitter