Don’t miss out on opportunities
“We’ve seen many companies who use social media, but only in one part of the business – usually external communications rather than overall for business innovation,” says senior lecturer Fefie Dotsika. Those organisations are missing out on the opportunities and benefits a fully-integrated use of social media offers. Not only more responsive sales, marketing and customer service, but also enhanced business processes. These can include better internal communications, more effective collaboration and wider knowledge and information sharing.
“There’s often a lack of understanding of, and confidence in how social media technologies can be used inside an organisation,” says Keith. “Following the work we did on a couple of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, we realised we could help address that.”
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)
Led by Innovate UK – formerly the Technology Strategy Board – Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are designed to help businesses improve productivity and competitiveness through collaboration with universities and other research organisations.
Keith and Fefie’s most successful KTP involved working with a specialist Knowledge Management consultancy to help transform internal communications in a legal services firm. “We created a social media platform to act as the intranet,” Fefie explains. “The project had a huge positive financial impact on the company. It also helped change the culture, increasing communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing.” The KTP was graded outstanding and shortlisted for the Guardian’s Innovation Nation Awards.
Business innovation through social media use
The conclusions that Keith and Fefie drew from their research for the KTP suggest that to optimise social media use for business innovation, organisations should ensure
- they have a good understanding of available social media platforms, so they can identify the one(s) best suited to their organisation’s culture and requirements
- they have a vision of what they want to achieve through introducing social media to improve internal communications, collaborative working and knowledge management
- the people who are going to be using the tools/platforms take the lead in selecting them. That will make sure that the tools meet organisational needs, can be as easily integrated into people’s working lives as possible and are more likely to be used
- leadership teams are enthusiastic about, and supportive of the widespread use of the chosen tools/platforms
- training and support are available so both early adopters and more reluctant users can get the most out of the adopted platforms/tools
- they have a strategy in place for implementation, use, measurement and optimisation of their social media platforms.
“Social Media for Business Innovation will cover all these areas,” says Fefie. Research conducted during the course planning process demonstrated that, even now, the leaders of many organisations aren’t confident they’re making the best use of social media for external communications: sales, marketing, and customer service. “So we‘ll start with the basics about social media: what they are, which platforms are available and how you use different platforms for different aspects of the business: for external communications, and also internal communications and for knowledge management.”
“Then we’re going to explore the tools and processes enabling organisations to measure, analyse and optimise the benefits they gain from social media presence. And, during the last session (the course runs over three evenings) – participants will start formulating a social media strategy for their organisation.”
Hands-on social media workshop
“The idea,” says Keith, “is to give participants a hands-on familiarity with using a range of social media, with directions about how it can help people to share, collaborate and interact with each other. We will also help them learn ways to introduce and embed innovative business processes, to improve how people work in teams and share their work.”
4 must-reads on social media and business innovation
Why No One Uses the Corporate Social Network – Charlene Li in Harvard Business Review
How Social CEOs Harness Social Media for Knowledge Management – Hayes Drumwright in KM World
Implementing a social intranet in a professional services environment through Web 2.0 technologies – Shimrit Hamadani Janes, Keith Patrick and Fefie Dotsika in The Learning Organization, Vol. 21 Iss: 1, pp.26 – 47
Social Media versus Knowledge Management – Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald in Harvard Business Review