When I cracked open the e-pages of Steve Nicholls' new book, Social Media in Business, I was immediately hooked, especially when I read this:
"Organizational problems are really cleverly disguised people issues. Social media is a people issue; the technology is the enabler. The attitudes and beliefs of people will be more important than the technical issues."
Those words, in a book targeted at those in the enterprise, are the first CIOs, CTOs, CEOs and others in the C-suite will read (provided the read the preface). It’s refreshing as well as revolutionary. And that’s the point.
Putting Social Media in Action
Steve Nicholls, who isn’t a marketer, but rather an entrepreneur in the telecomm industry, wrote this book to wake people up, not to make them feel better about blocking, denying or otherwise censoring social media platforms.
Written as a guide as much as a manifesto, Social Media in Business outlines the opportunities, the challenges, the directives and risks. Then once business managers have been properly debriefed and given takeaways at the end of each chapter, it lays out an action plan. Nicholls calls it The 3-CORE Project Success System and it aims to help put social media in context of an organization’s business environment.
While it isn’t Social Media for Dummies, it does take the time to explain social media well and provide appropriate background on the platforms used to engage community and how it can add value to an organization. It also adequately addresses the role that culture plays in creating a social media presence -- from internal communications to the exchange of information to community management, these points are emphasized throughout.
What I particularly like about the information provided is that Nicholls makes it clear that social media success isn’t instantaneous. Instead, it takes time to figure out what works and what doesn’t as well as how to stay on top of evolving and emerging technologies and trends. He writes:
The key point for a manager to note is that the popularity of social media sites changes over time. It is therefore important to have an understanding of the social media landscape and to stay on top of its evolution.
The 3-CORE Project Success System
I’ve seen many strategies for implementing social media, but Nicholls’ 3-CORE Project Success System might be one of my favorites, if only because it starts with asking questions that force the reader to understand the outcomes they hope to achieve. He doesn’t give business managers an opportunity to just say “I want 1 million followers, that’s why!” If the reader has made it this far, he understands that he must provide meaningful answers to questions like:
- Is there a clear outcome defined for the project?
- Does the intention of the project support the business strategy?
- Is this the right project at the right time for my organization?
- What support is there from key players for the outcome?
- Are there obstacles to different departments working together?
(That last one is my favorite.)
Then he asks managers to clearly define potential pitfalls and their solutions before actually creating the project definition and building the management team. Again, this is pretty revolutionary. We know that, too often, the CEO stumbles into a senior director’s office and tells them that the company should “do this social media thing." As a result, the senior director calls their assistant into the office and commands them to make it happen, with little, if any, feedback, direction or insights. In Nicholl’s book, he puts the onus of building a team on the executive or business manager. A team doesn’t just magically appear, nor should it include only those who are younger than 30.
There are many books and whitepapers that the executive suite should read to learn more about social media and its benefit to the enterprise. Social Media in Business not only teaches, it shows how and provides a road map that is compatible to business.