Organizations work hard to better interact with external constituents such as customers, partners and prospects but they generally spend far less time doing so for the audiences within their walls. Leveraging social media as collaboration and knowledge management tools within the organization is woefully under-utilized but necessary to emphasize dialogue and sharing between staff rather than relying on one-way communications that typify many internal communications channels.
According to our research, less than 20 percent of B2B companies that regularly use social media from a marketing, sales and support perspective also use these tools internally. A leading community platform vendor even told me recently that they really didn't see a market need for the internal use of their tool. Clearly, this is an area that demands greater attention, but organizations that have been burned by the lack of adoption of intranets and static internal portals are hesitant to go down that road again.
B2B organizations will have to address a number of issues before they can enjoy the benefits of a thriving internal community, including goal setting, platform selection and building a project team. Key milestones in starting an internal community are a pilot phase to test and validate approaches, a governance/moderation process, and then the hard work to drive wider adoption. A successful internal community also requires a solid content strategy, a commitment to continuous change management, as well as a framework for measurement.
While an internal community can provide a more effective platform for collaboration and best practice sharing between sales, marketing and the rest of your company, a well-socialized strategy and guidelines — as well as improvements to drive the continued health of the community — are what ultimately drive success. No matter how much your organization embraces new media for internal use, strive to achieve the same goals you do externally: cast a wider net to reach more people and provide them with multiple ways to access and exchange information.
Jonathan Block is Vice President and Practice Director, Technology, at SiriusDecisions. He has developed key models and frameworks that enable b-to-b organizations to understand, evaluate and implement appropriate marketing and sales technologies, as well as advised executive clients on the role of technology to help drive sales and marketing integration and enterprise alignment. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jblock.