Sonntag, 15. Mai 2011

The social tree

How do you get social in the corporate? What is the best Social Media governance? The corporate voice or the empowered choir?  - I have a clear preference: The social tree. (#socialtree - and soon all the gardeners will follow me!)
via stockxchng, Tree1 by diesel_sto

Of course the corporate voice has some advantages at the first sight - but frankly speaking it is the wrong concept to leverage on the power of Social Media (before Web2.0 hardly any company would have been honoured to be recognized as "social" in the sense of chummy, convivial, folksy, sociable - see How social are Social Media).

So am I in favour of the empowered choir then? I like the connotation of it, but the picture is missing out some aspects. Nevertheless it gives me the opportunity the cite the famous Verdi Chorus (Nabucco): Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate / "Fly, thought, on golden wings,"
Many singers, orchestrated, but with their own tone and voice - and in the end it sounds loud, strong and beautiful. I can subscribe to that. Good intentions, but ask yourself, do you go to Twitter to listen to all the corporate choirs? Something is missing.

Some of the best discussions (mind the gap! between broadcast and discussion) I had with people having their own company or belonging to a company in the field - so I acknowledge their business interest, but the point is, I had discussions with them.
And for me as a company employee to be on Twitter it is not in the first place to market my company, I demand knowledge, ask for help, listen to the thoughts of others, get inspired. And the received gold nuggets, I bring back into the company. The receiving, the "sponge" part is not in the choir picture.

I had associations of tentacles, but neither do I want to kill nor is the metapher recognized positively. So ...

The social tree
The metapher for how to use Twitter and other Social Media for the global corporate successfully. How the employees are incorporated in a successful Social Media culture.
(to the largest extend I have digested and re-used tweets and blog posts I have come across and forgot to cite - and now my mind pretends it was my own cleverness) Latest examples:

The roots
Roots, and its about the endings, are small, tiny, there are many of them, they go in all kind of directions and they are usually invinsible.
In order to be successful in the Social Media you need to have something to say. Having something to say is based on experience. In order to share knowledge, knowledge must have been created. This knowledge can - to a large extent - be based on what you read on Twitter and elsewhere, if you transform it into new knowledge by creating your own context. It's about absorbing experiences and information, and turning them into context, thus creating knowledge. Knowledge speculation, the pure retailing of what others say, is not sustainable - it adds and I am happy to retweet (not everything) - but that's not the core. These individual experiences are made in a vastly extended root system in marketing, selling and delivering the business, usually necessary to nourish the corporate, usually below the public surface.

The trunk
The trunk brings all the tiny roots together, gives height to the tree and provides stability and the trunk is the basis for leaves and blossoms. While inside it is a live stream, to the outside it shows a repellent bark.
What is creating stability in the corporate: long-term strategy, history, and large scale context. (Yes corporates can become imprissoned in their old barked trunk). To quite an extend the height of our outlook is due to corporate support, promotion, competence and training.
But most important, there is a difference between a number of individuals and a number of corporate employees, and this is what the corporate trunk provides: A company culture, a view on the world, an accepted value set, a sense-making mechanism that is ongoing in the corporate; in short the corporate context. In the trunk the huge number of individual roots are united, only with the corporate context all the tiny information and experience pieces from the roots are turned into knowledge.
However newsletter, press releases and corporate tweets belong more to the bark in many cases then to the live stream inside: Monolitic, polished, okay for publication of corporate news, but the trunk is not really something you can get in touch with, to engage with as external (the bark is hard, and the vivid inside is shielded). The corporate trunk to the external builds a defense mechanism, gives stability compromised for unflexibility. Defense mode does not allow empathy. The trunk alone doesn't make a tree, exactly as the one corporate voice doesn't make Twitter and Social Media work for the company.

The leaves and blossoms
The leaves and the blossoms are small and tiny (again!), they are connected to the trunk, but they are not rigid, they are flexible. Every leave looks a bit different. Leaves are absorbing and emitting. The leaves and the blossoms build the crown. While every leave and blossom is different, they all together form of the corporate what is seen from the distance. They build the picture of the tree: strong, flexible and also defending the trunk (think about if thinks go bad on a company on Twitter!). A tree without them is a rather sad picture. All the leaves and blossoms are nourished from the roots via the trunk, but as well from what they themselves receive from the outside. They are the many many receivers of what is out there on Twitter, not one receving everything (how would the corporate voice be able to absorb everywhere and understand), but every according to position and affinity. The receiving aspect is what is missing in the empowered choir methaper. The leaves and the blossoms is where the give and take occurs. Every leave and blossom is "personal" (from the conceptual point of view): Authentic, customized, open, engaged. And this engagement is the basis for relations, and eventually for accountability.  Leaves are absorbing and emitting. Emitting knowledge and eventually thought leadership. Absorbing, be it sensoring trends, building up competence and sharpening arguments.

I anticipate comments, that I haven't defined for the company the purpose of Social Media - no, I haven't that is right. Not the particular purpose - but the variety (maximum?) of purposes are visible in the leave and blossom part for global corporates (neglecting the direct selling via Twitter): Identity of the corporate, relations, knowledge sharing and thought leadership, business intelligence and learning.


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