Sometimes you get things right. Whether you're smart, or lucky, or a bit of both -- it should be a moment for rejoicing since it doesn't happen as often as you'd like :-)
It's struck me that when we put our overall corporate social media strategy together, there were two big themes: encouraging social media skills and applying them to ever-wider conversations.
Looks like that was the right thing to do ...
The Germ Of An Idea
David Spencer offered up a telling comment to my last post that confirmed my thinking here.
"At EMC we didn't tell people where to go, what to play with or what not to play with.
We have smart, social people who feel empowered to represent our brand and themselves at the same time all over the place, and the payoff is nearly automatic.
There are certainly other approaches to take, but I really enjoy the organic growth that our approach has led to."
He's absolutely spot-on. That's exactly what we did.
It's Hard To Get This Insight Across
As a matter of fact, it's deep insight that I struggle to impart with all those I talk to about corporate social media proficiency. Lots of focus on "what's the best platform?" or "who is in charge?" or "how do we keep bad things from happening?" et. al.
All of this tends to distract from what's turning out to be the keys to success in corporate social media proficiency.
It's The "Social" In "Social Media"
First, it's about getting people comfortable and proficient with all of this. That means having a place to practice (e.g. internal platform), continual messages of encouragement (from peers and others), and lightweight governance that encourages empowerment and experimentation.
Today, we have an ever-expanding crew of 50 or so EMC people who are (a) extremely comfortable with all of this, (b) represent our company and our brand pretty well, and (c) like interacting with other people at EMC who are interested in doing the same.
You'll see them inside and outside the company on a variety of platforms. They are perhaps some of our most valuable and important employees -- although that's probably not widely recognized yet.
Call them our "social core" or our "social team" or our "social people" or whatever.
Nobody chose them, they all volunteered.
The Big Conversation
Second, the value of corporate social media is in direct proportion to the size of the conversation -- hence my preference for the term "the big conversation" -- the bigger the better!
That means we started with a "no private spaces" policy on our internal platform. We encouraged proficient bloggers behind the firewall to go outside the firewall. We empowered people to leave comments on other blogs, including competitors. When we started building external communities (ECN), we had plenty of people at our company who wanted to play for all the right reasons.
And when Twitter came along, we were there in force. Nothing had to be explicitly done. No strategy meetings, no amendments to corporate policy, etc. etc. It just happened. And I wasn't even paying attention at the time :-)
I should point out that -- whenever the next cool social tool or platform comes along, and it inevitably will -- we're automatically pre-positioned to leverage that one as well. It all has a nice, organic self-sustaining feel to it.
Which puts us in great shape for whatever comes down the road, no?
Is This The TIme To Write A Book?
In some regards, the fundamental processes and investments we put in place a while back are now self-sustaining. We're transforming our company into a 2.0 enterprise. There's no turning back, either.
Sure, we'll need to make more investments -- either to optimize our use of the tools, or to accelerate one use case or another. All minor tweaks to a running machine, IMHO.
But I'm wondering -- how useful are our insights to others? How many organizations will want to transform themselves into 2.0-style companies, and realize that it's not a straightforward journey?
Let me know your thoughts ... thanks!