PR Should Lead the Change to Social Business Initiatives

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In my first blog post about the recent IBM Social Business Study, I focused on the fact that organizations need to plan for a broader use of social beyond PR and marketing. In this second part I would like to look at another aspect of the study – that the rise of social requires additional structural and organizational changes to a company’s internal and external communications procedure.

The overall benefits of social media and social software apply to both internal and external processes. There is no reason why companies shouldn’t use the advantages of social business also for their internal communication. For example, respondents of the study were asked about the uses of social business for innovation: 57% say that social business enables more effective internal collaboration; 58% say that it’s good for monitoring customer comments for new ideas and another 46% believe that a use of social business is to obtain feedback from customers.

Using social software for more efficient internal collaboration, for example between sales, customer service, marketing and PR, is also a good way to make people get used to the tools and different way of communicating as it will help them prepare for the external use of social media. That’s one reason why a company’s communications department should also be in a leading position when it comes to implementing a social business infrastructure internally and should have a supporting function for colleagues in other departments.

At the same time as the respondents of the study report a planned increase of their social business initiatives, they are aware of the fact that social business requires a certain level of change to how a company has operated in the past, although most of them (two-thirds) are not sure if they understood exactly what needs to be changed and nearly three-quarters are feeling they were underprepared for such change.

But what exactly does this change look like? Executives say that focusing on social means “a different way of thinking about employees, customers and how work is accomplished, as well as the potential risk of increased organizational openness and transparency.”

Of course, increased use of social software and social media internally and externally leads to increased openness and transparency. But why must this be considered a risk in the first place? At the same time, this is an opportunity for organizations of all kind on a lot of levels. And the biggest risk of all is when an organization won’t educate their employees on their own role in social media.

Business executives increasingly see the value of social on many levels and plan to invest more in this space. And at the same time they feel the need to change the way they are doing business now to adapt to the social business world. Dear communications professionals, here’s your chance: seize this opportunity and prove your strategic value for your organization. Help your executives on this path to social business. They will thank you for that.