The truth teller

If you follow social media – and this probably relates more to blogs and Twitter than the other channels – you know there’s a lot of opinions on marketing and PR out there. 

Now, on the whole, this is a good thing, but at the same time, there’s often a lack of good, honest discussion of some of these opinions and memes.

So when someone provides a contrarian view on one of the sacred cows, it’s always worth a listen.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister addresses the question of “storytelling”…

You are not a storyteller – Stefan Sagmeister @ FITC from FITC on Vimeo.

Source: Darren Barefoot.

FIR766: Enterprise Social

As a regular listener to For Immediate Release – hosted by Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz, I was listening to Monday’s episode which included an interesting discussion on Enterprise Social.  As a guy who works on the Microsoft Office PR team – which of course includes Yammer – this is a subject close to my heart.  I started writing a comment on their Google Plus community, but it was very long, so rather than annoy other members of the community I thought I’d paste the comment here and just provide a link.

Neville/Shel:

Interesting piece on Enterprise Social adoption (Disclaimer I work on the Microsoft Office PR team – which includes Yammer but I am also a long time FIR listener Smile). 

I’m not sure it’s a surprise that adoption rates of enterprise social are slower than ‘consumer social’ (or perhaps just social media?).  As you know the formal deployment of technology in a business is often slower for a multitude of reasons.

Enterprise social is often part of a broader company transformation – after all it enables people to work together in new ways. Telstra is an interesting example of that.

"It (Enterprise Social) has solicited a degree of honesty and openness. There’s occasionally a little bit of stuff that comes out, but I tell you I never jump in. It’s self-managing, because other people jump in.” David Thodey, CEO of Telstra. 

The majority of companies undertake initial pilots before taking the decision to deploy it more widely.  For example after an initial trial, UK retailer Tesco is now rolling out Enterprise Social to their 320,000 people.

Having said that, there is strong growth in the number of companies, teams and individuals using Enterprise Social. Although Yammer is only one of many enterprise social services, it is being used by over 500,000 organizations today. 

Shel’s point on the importance of app-based networks is a valid one, however I think you’ll find that most enterprise social providers already support apps so people can use them wherever they are – desktop, laptop, tablet and phone – and companies are putting serious effort into making it easier for employees to use it. Qantas is a good example:

As discussed on the show, greater integration of Enterprise Social with the tools people are using today will accelerate adoption and that’s why in Microsoft’s case (Ref: Disclaimer above) we’re integrating Yammer across Office 365, so you can use it with Outlook or collaborate on a document via Yammer etc.

Beyond the traditional benefits such as increased collaboration and productivity, the broad adoption of Enterprise Social enables a new set of intelligent tools and services that aid personal and group productivity.  Delve is a great example of this. It intelligently uses all the information and communications across your company to deliver the personalized information you need, where and when you need it.

Olso_dd_01

The real value of Enterprise Social is that it is helping people, teams and organizations to change how they work.  It’s something we call ‘’the ‘Responsive Org.  Adam Pisoni, co-founder of Yammer puts it well in this interview:

“Companies as they exist today were designed for the industrial revolution when most of the work was routine and repetitive …

“The world has become a giant network but companies have remained rigid hierarchies.”

“It’s not about the technology any more. There’s value in working differently. Tools like Yammer don’t work unless you change the way you work.”

Red Robin is just one company that has transformed its business using Enterprise Social:

Yummer is particularly remarkable because it gave a voice to the "silent" front-line workers at Red Robin. Prior to Yammer, these employees would pass information up the company management chain, but they rarely received feedback about what was done with the information.

The good news for Enterprise Social is that more and more companies are using it to transform how they work and many are seeing real, tangible, business outcomes. 

Finally I can’t finish without referencing FIR podcast network member Rachel Miller’s fantastic Yammertime resource.

Great PR requires a little bravery

The explosion of data and analytics has created fantastic opportunities for marketers and PR pros to get better insights into the impact of their work.

While the benefits of measuring the results of an announcement or campaign are immediately obvious, the potential for data to inform future decision making has traditionally been more challenging.

The potential of data to provide insights and inform new approaches to communicating or engaging with people is pretty exciting.  Where before we based decisions exclusively on experience and perhaps a gut feeling, now you can test an idea, measure the impact and refine it – or never do it again Smile.

The potential to have quantifiable insight along with your experience and opinion is a powerful thing.  The downside is that to garner that insight you must try something new and in some cases that could be a calculated risk.  You may have to establish a baseline or measure impact, and that could potentially put you outside your comfort zone.

Of course personal and professional discomfort is one thing, the legions of online Monday morning quarterbacks just looking for the opportunity to dissect your work and question your professionalism and/or competence is another. 

However, these pundits rarely let knowledge or insight – into your objectives or even the actual results – get in the way of their opinion.  My advice is to ignore them.

The reality is that in today’s changing world we must trial and experiment new things.  Data gives us the potential to measure their effectiveness and thereby help us to be more successful in the future.

It may take a little bravery to take that first step, but if you do it thoughtfully, it can deliver real, tangible long term benefits.

I think it’s probably worth the risk and Albert Einstein would probably agree.