DEEP Insight

Social Media: Are You in the Conversation? Premium

These are the issues you need to be discussing – because your customers and competitors are already talking.

This executive dossier includes the following articles:

Let the Revolution Begin! Premium

Enterprise 2.0

Dutta, Soumitra

Following initial foot-dragging, many Fortune 500 companies are now actively embracing Web 2.0 tools. Among the major benefits, they cite increased collaboration, a democracy of talents, a corporate culture of trust and potential productivity gains. The Enterprise 2.0 revolution, it seems, is finally happening. But revolutions can be as disruptive as they are empowering. Clearly, if the e-revolution is indeed happening, then executives urgently need to rethink how they structure, organize and manage their companies. Their success in doing so will determine whether they ride the crest of the revolution or are swept away by it. The author proposes five strategies that companies can pursue to push their organizations toward becoming fully networked enterprises and ensure a relatively smooth transition in the process: choose the right technology, loosen control without losing control, harness the knowledge of youth, lead from the top and integrate across the company’s operations. Attempts to restrict or control social media are futile, he says, as changing demographics are speeding the demise of outmoded organizational forms.

Converting Old Policies Into New Value Premium

Beyond Control

Káganer, Evgeny; Vaast, Emmanuelle

Firms that have social media on the radar most often use formal policies to guide their use in the workplace. This article is based on a study of 40 companies from a variety of industries, sectors and geographies, analyzing comprehensive policy documents that cover a wide range of social media tools and uses. The authors identify 18 recurring policy themes, which can be classified into three general categories: those dealing with risk mitigation; those providing guidance on various aspects of social media use; and those aimed at generating business value through social media. In analyzing the distribution and relative importance of themes, most organizations appear to adapt existing policies instead of treating the new media on their own terms. They are overwhelmingly focused on mitigating perceived risks at the expense of value creation. Companies must take a more mindful approach toward social media, say the authors. They offer advice on creating strategic policies that will generate value for employees and customers in the long term.

Adding Social Media to the Marketing Mix Premium

The Power of Word of Mouth

Armelini, Guillermo; Villanueva, Julián

Social media have rapidly gained share and attention among all kinds of consumers and companies, often at the expense of traditional media. Companies have started to redefine key aspects of their marketing mix. With advertising and online word of mouth competing for shrinking marketing budgets, many companies regard having an active presence in social media as a viable alternative to traditional advertising. Yet the authors believe this would be a mistake, as the two strategies are complementary rather than substitutive. A comparison of advertising and word of mouth shows that social media obey very different rules from traditional advertising. Social media can start conversations or build brand recognition, but the results are much more difficult to predict or measure. With that in mind, the authors recommend how to define a social media plan, citing examples of companies that got it right - and offering cautionary tales of those that got it wrong.

Ethics Hold the Key to Network Contradictions Premium

Privacy, Transparency, Security

Vaccaro, Antonino

Today's Internet-based world has certainly made it easier for companies to acquire, store and transmit detailed information like never before. But with these gains in speed and efficiency have come more complex, and sometimes contradictory, expectations about how companies should collect, retain and disclose that information. Consumers, employees and other stakeholders are accessing and exchanging all manner of information related to individual habits, personal preferences and privately held beliefs, which used to be kept under lock and key, but are now largely out of our hands. Given how radically virtual networks have transformed the nature of our social interactions - including those that connect firms with their stakeholders - experts have started to stress the need for an ethical framework that is uniquely conceived to tackle the complexity of the phenomena at play under this new scenario. This article addresses "network ethics" - an integrated vision of ethical problems as associated with the management of Internet-driven networks - and highlights the need to carefully analyze not only financial and relational drivers, but also ethical ones. Sound, conscious, careful ethical judgment becomes a fundamental tool for managers to understand the appropriateness of stakeholders' ethical claims, and then build fruitful relationships with them based on trust.

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