Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Importance of Not 'Forcing' Employee Participation

Last week I posted my thoughts on the position of the social media as an organisational culture. In the post, I offered my thoughts on why so many organizations are still getting it wrong, suggesting that the culture must actively encourage and be conducive towards employee participation in the social media. One of my main recommendations was that employees must engage in the conversation willingly. The space between encouraged participation and forced participation is vast. As such, the resultant outcomes will differ significantly.

The need for organizations to engage in the social media has been well documented. Terms such as 'Web 2.0' and the 'New Media' have been popular buzzwords for a number of years now; organizations are finally beginning to take note. Whilst this organisational realization is fantastic from the perspective of a social media evangelist, it is simultaneously of concern. Whilst many organizations are keen to get on board the 'Web 2.0' bandwagon, I fear that their eagerness to engage has clouded their judgement.

Recently, the blog has become an oft utilised tool of the 'tech savvy' organisation. Even traditional organizations such as the British government are implementing blogging; quite well too might I add. Unfortunately, for every organisation that 'gets it', there are ten that don't. Many of these organizations push blogging onto the workforce, instead of simply facilitating the use thereof through the provision of the appropriate tools. Although such actions are often the result of misinformation and stem from a good intention to evolve the business, a forced presence will invariably be perceived as awkward.

I read a fantastic post by Valeria Maltoni at the Conversation Agent Blog which questioned how often we as marketers adequately discuss the value of the social media with clients. Whilst the importance of creating a presence within the social media is clear to you and your colleagues, are your clients similarly 'au fait' with the true potential of blogs, microblogs, social networks and wikis? Probably not. It is our responsibility as professionals to ensure that the organisation does not apply social media practices simply because everyone else has. Unless the client is clear about the value thereof, then it is highly probable that the resultant content will come across as manufactured; particularly within those organizations in which participation is expected as opposed to being encouraged. Manufactured content will invariably be perceived as valueless by the customer, causing the likelihood of engagement to drop as a corollary.

That organizations are beginning to recognize the value of the social media is unquestionably a good sign. It is now down to us to ensure that those organizations looking to engage their customers do so via the appropriate channels.

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1 comment:

  1. I just found the following quote by Jackie Huba in the brilliant Naked Conversations (Scoble & Israel);

    "Organisations that set out to do something viral or generate buzz... often end up coming across as cheesy... Two way marketing is essential to evangelism. Word-of-Mouth tactics may backfire if they are one-directional".

    Clearly a forced attempt to push social media tactics onto the workforce will prove unsuccessful. The organisation should bear this in mind when developing any social media strategies.