From my archives I dug up the the article 7 Questions Key to Social Networking Success, Informationweek, Jan 18,2010 which talks about businesses using the big four social media networks: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.
The Informationweek article mentions how companies at that time were trying to bring social network capabilities “in house.” The problem the article says, is that “corporate culture is historically closed and conservative.” This means we get the social media tools, but they are so over-controlled and managed that we don’t get the benefits.
The article tells the story of Starbucks creating an online community where customers could make suggestions and ideas and where Starbucks gave them feedback on what suggestions and ideas had been implemented. What struck me here, and with the rest of the article, was that it never mentioned harvesting the ideas of a key constituency … the employee.
Certainly in a project management environment we think about getting feedback from our team on how to do things better or other innovative ideas. Yet when we talk about social media we still talk about getting customer recognition and feedback (which we hopefully use) but not so much about doing the same with the engaged people we already have in our business.
I would argue that we first engage our own employees, get their ideas — collected from internal or even external social media sites. This, I’ve observed, often has the most immediate payback improvement rather than analyzing to death the inputs from a focus group or other marketing tool. What I’ve found is that finding someone within the organization who has a real interest in what our external customers are mentioning can be key to making that change, improvement, innovation work well within the company — and impacting the bottom line.
Recently, I wrote the CEO of a Fortune 200 company what I loved and hated about his company. I got multiple calls and emails from individuals within the company asking me for more details to see if they could solve the problems. Consistently what I heard was “Yeah, we knew that and thanks for pointing it out to our CEO. We now have more support to finally make the change.” While I love the company for its responsiveness to its customers, it is both sad and humorous that unless a customer points out the issue, the company is unlikely to fix something that the employees already see as a problem.
Let’s not forget that innovation and inspiration comes as much from our own employees as it does from our customers. When we engage new technologies and approaches to see “what our customer wants” don’t forget about our employees. The odds are they already know a lot about what needs to be done.
How are you using social media to get feedback and ideas from your customers and from your project teams?