I am on a mission to help Fortune 500 companies answer the question, "What is social media and how can it help our company?"
Senior executives and managers can not make decisions or allocate budget to something they know very little about. You are at a competitive disadvantage if you do not embrace the power of social media and understand how it applies to the enterprise. Your competitors are already there. Your incoming digital native workforce is there. In fact, 2012 is the year companies will move from social media to social business.
I'm very optimistic that companies, business schools, governments, non-profits and other organizations are ready. I talk to CEO's and decision makers every day and I'm encouraged by what I hear. They're finally acknowledging that social media has become the new rocket fuel powering all aspects of the organization today. Every department is affected by social technologies -- the board room, corporate communications, investor relations, marketing, legal, human resources, customer service, supply chain management, sales, research and development -- the list goes on and on.
But some will say, 'Well, we aren't affected because we aren't doing social yet". Not true. Did you know that even if your company never sends a Tweet, you could be using Twitter for competitive and business intelligence? The same is true with Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
In 2012, companies that learn how to master the power of real-time social media will end up the winners. Companies that don't, won't. It's really that simple.
The 'Next' Lens 4 Social Enterprise Trends in 2012:
1. The Power of Real-time -- Harnessing Chaos
a. Simply put, the chaos theory means that something seemingly small can have a large impact. The social enterprise will get better at sifting through the digital river to recognize what's important. This swift global business environment requires all participants to be fully fluent in social technologies and platforms.
b. Companies will finally realize that more control no longer equals more revenue. In fact, it's just the opposite.
c. Companies will switch from "What's social media?" to "How do we effectively use these new tools to define our social voice to garner better business intelligence, create more robust customer engagements, create a truly collaborative workforce, and grow the bottom line?"
2. The Global Social Brain -- It's Everywhere and It's Getting Really Smart
a. The living, breathing collective consciousness - the global social brain - is collecting and dispersing data at dizzying speeds.
b. The 2012 workforce is expected to be solution-based and fully connected in and on social platforms, whether those platforms are part of their everyday work or not.
c. 2012 will see a growing body of social metadata that will spur better analytics and measurement. Competitive advantage will go to those who know how to turn this metadata into actional business intelligence.
3. Content Curation and Discovery- Just Give Me What's Important and Let Me Find What I Need
a. Aggregation and curation will be critical going into 2012 and companies will either create a social layer into existing IT systems and/or look to the multiple new vendors popping up.
b. Discovery will be encouraged, not blocked.
c. Competitive advantage goes to companies who quickly figure out how to enable effective aggregation curation. Look for rapid innovation in this field.
4. Social Media Education -- The Enterprise Goes To School
a. Take social education as seriously as Six Sigma. The enterprise NOT fluent in social will be at a competitive disadvantage. ALL employees must be exposed to basic social media training and education to attain a knowledge baseline in the organization.
b. Smart Chief Learning Officers will seek outside consultation and guidance. This is not a 'build it here' solution for most companies. Most of today's education systems inside the enterprise rely on technologies and procedures that do not encompass social platforms.
c. Companies will realize they can't make strategic decisions on social media policy guidelines without fully understanding the implications of social media technologies. They can't manage something they don't know. Budget will be allocated for corporate training of executives -- even if those executives will never post a status update to Facebook.
The days of looking the other way while the social river flows by are over. Watch out, or you'll lose your footing and be carried downstream. Companies will finally step up and get smart about what it takes to be in business in this globally connected world.
Beverly Macy is the CEO of Gravity Summit LLC and the Co-Author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. She also teaches Executive Global Marketing and Branding and Social Media Marketing for the UCLA Extension in Westwood, CA. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org