David Armano about 4 challenges social media pose for business

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Written by David Armano Sunday, 06 September 2009 19:53

A recent survey conducted by Proofpoint, a firm specializing in data loss prevention, found that 8 percent of companies had terminated employees due to social media usage (common causes included sharing sensitive information). And while the statistic seems significant, it underscores only one of the many challenges organizations face as social media begin to transform how companies do business. Here are some challenges that every organization should be planning for right now:

1. Integration. For companies that truly participate in social media (as opposed to leveraging them as a new form of marketing), sites like Facebook can impact every aspect of their business. But where do social media actually live within an organization? Should organizations hire a “chief social officer” much like they would a chief technology officer? All companies will eventually grapple with integrating social media into their entire ecosystem by adopting either centralized, distributed or hybrid approaches.

2. Governance. Many organizations understand that anything can and will be said about them on the Internet. And this includes content produced not only from the general public, but also from internal constituents such as employees. Organizations will not only need to begin actively listening so that they are in the know, but they will need rules of engagement for how they deal with multiple types of scenarios from responding to a compliment to dealing with a detractor to following up with an employee who just posted something inappropriate or sensitive.

3. Culture. All organizations fall somewhere on a spectrum between being completely “open” or completely “closed,” meaning that they are either transparent in how they operate and collaborative or they tend to hoard knowledge internally. Consider, for example, that Apple, which can be notoriously secretive, is benefiting by leveraging a strategy that opened up their iPhone application ecosystem. Sure Apple has a great deal of control over it, but for the first time in history, they have legions of people developing applications that run on their hardware. Organizations have the potential to benefit from embracing customers and employees in new ways, but they will have to manage these initiatives intelligently and purposefully.

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4. Human Resources. Companies hoping to transform themselves into social businesses will have to upgrade their HR protocols, as well as their legal infrastructure. This process is likely to be never-ending as new technologies continually hit the scene. Before there was Twitter, companies scrambled to publish blogging guidelines for employees; now the wrong tweet or Facebook post can get you fired.

David Armano is part of the founding team at Dachis Corporation, an Austin-based start-up delivering social business design services.

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