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Five Challenges Social Media Will Bring to Business

Original Source: Five Challenges Social Media Will Bring to Business, David Armano

A recent survey conducted by Proofpoint found that 8% of companies had terminated employees due to social media usage (common causes including sharing sensitive information on a network). And while the statistic seems significant, it only underscores one of several upcoming challenges nearly every organization will face as changes in people, process and technology fueled by the collective movement we call social media begin to transform business.

—  Blogs breaches continue: 18 percent had investigated a data loss event via a blog or message board in the past 12 months. 17 percent disciplined an employee for violating blog or message board policies, while nearly nine percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation (both increases from 2008, 11 percent and six percent, respectively).

—  Video exposure: Given the rapid adoption of video and audio media within the enterprise — and the popularity of media sharing sites like YouTube — it’s no surprise that more US companies reported investigating exposure events across these channels (18 percent, up from 12 percent in 2008). As a result, 15 percent have disciplined an employee for violating multimedia sharing / posting policies in the past 12 months, while eight percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation.

—  Friends or foes?: Concerning social networks, US companies are also experiencing more exposure incidents involving sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as compared to 2008 (17 percent versus 12 percent). US companies are taking a much more forceful approach with offending employees — eight percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation as compared to only four percent in 2008.

—  Data loss in 140 characters or less: Even short message services like SMS texts and Twitter pose a risk. 13 percent of US companies investigated an exposure event involving mobile or Web-based short message services in the past 12 months.

Here are a few challenges that every organization should be planning for right now:

1. Integration. Becoming a “social business” (meaning true participation as opposed to leveraging social media as a new form of marketing) can impact nearly every function of a business. Marketing, PR, communications–even supply chain and any function that deals with employees. So where does it live? Is it a department? Do organizations hire a “Chief Social Officer” much like they would a Chief Technology Officer? All organizations will eventually grapple with integrating social into their entire ecosystem adopting either centralized, distributed or hybrid approaches.

2. Governance. Many organizations now understand that anything that can and will be said about them on the internet will be. The good, the bad, the ugly. 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 of being “open” or “closed” meaning that they are either more transparent with how they operate and collaborative or they hoard knowledge internally. Consider that it’s probable that the Zappos purchase by Amazon had a good deal to do with their notoriously open culture. Likewise, even 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 will have to manage it intelligently and with purpose.

4. Human Resources. In order to transform from a business to a social business, companies are going to have to upgrade their HR protocols, as well as legal. And it’s likely to be a never-ending process 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 status can get you fired. Organizations will not only need to update guidelines but actually train their people who may be leveraging social technologies for work. Customer service in particular comes to mind.

5. Measurement & ROI. Every organization will continue to struggle with measuring results and reporting ROI. Philosophically, this question can be answered with another question: “what’s the ROI of e-mail”? But it’s a question that won’t go away. New social constructs will be needed to measure social initiatives such as attention (the size or number of participants actively engaged) or authority (the amount of influence a participant has in the ecosystem). Because social business is enabled by technology, it is by definition measurable. However, tying it to realized revenue or savings becomes more of a challenge.

In order for business to transform into something that can function in a less formal, fast moving social space–it will need to do so at scale. These 5 issues are but a handful of the types of growing pains we’ll see as this happens.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a strategic communications leader with nearly 20 years experience in both internal and external communications. She is a passionate advocate for developing communications that foster a stronger relationship between the organization and its employees. She is a global keynote speaker on employee engagement and HR communications. Elizabeth is a certified professional in Employer Brand through Universum Global's Employer Branding Academy.

One thought on “Five Challenges Social Media Will Bring to Business

  1. Sure Social Media can allow information to be ‘leaked’. However, this is a problem that is not new at all. CIO’s and IT technicians know how to access the personal computer and now wireless device of an employee. Personal, not corporate owned. Illegal but quite difficult to trace without a court order.

    It’s been going on for over two decades. Protect the corporation and poop on the employee.

    Now social media is taking this to another level, which will inspire more brown colored shoveling by the employee. Too bad the HR department doesn’t have any policies written down about this. The CIO doesn’t seem to respond to these inquiries either as they are ‘swamped’ with helping the corporation with this new “Social Media Problem”…

    Let me know how the classifieds look when you’re looking for a job for bringing up this issue in your company too, thanks —