If you want an idea of organization culture a company social media strategy provides a view. Companies who look at social media as a marketing vehicle miss far more than customer engagement.
A company with restrictive or minimalist social media reflects an organization culture, most likely, missing employee engagement well before social media meritocracy and transparency threatened the culture landscape.
Insight into corporate, social media strategy lends insight into governance. Insight into social media management lends insight into employee management.
A company marketing strategy and the people who lead, develop, and execute that marketing strategy, are a proxy for organization culture.
Culture by Any Other Name
The debate, to blog or not to blog, is much more of a debate on culture: to engage or not to engage? Do you know if your organization culture might be:
- Theory X?
Not sure? As an employee, you don’t need to work on the social media team to can gain insight into your company culture. How you answer some of these social media questions provides clues:
- Do all employees have access to social media sites from their computer?
- Does your company allow comments on the corporate web page or Facebook page?
- How easy does your company make it for people to forward, print, or email company pages or posts?
- Have you reviewed the company social media policy?
- Do you know where to find the social media policy?
- Are you aware if there is a social media policy?
Your company social media provides insight into so much more than marketing. If you work in marketing you have additional insight into your company culture. How you answer some of these social media questions provides clues:
- Before new site content or blog posts upload how many layers need to sign off?
- Does all content require legal review before approval?
- Are people assigned to ghost write blogs for leaders?
- Does marketing review web analytic data such as bounce rate in an open cross-department effort to improve content?
- Are calls to action analyzed and optimized on webpages, items that enable to “like”, forward, print, or email?
- Are people in each division or department writing content?
Restrictive, bureaucratic, controlled with no place for dialogue or comment, little or no training for talent development? Answers to these reveal to a bigger issue than social media.
Or is your organization culture:
- Theory Y?
Not sure, well:
- Does your social media strategy use social media press releases?
- Provide internal access to social media sites?
- Post blogs penned and written by who it says wrote them?
- Do departments write their own web content and openly share site data and metrics?
Can’t Talk Culture If You Can’t Live Culture
Collaborative, engaged, high-trust, diverse, innovative, flexible, talent development as an investment in training and retaining the best. Answers to these reveal bigger issues than social media.
I wrote in a prior the similarities between social media and organization development the strength of the best organization cultures rely on a work environment that includes:
Your organization can not have an open social media strategy if your current organization does not have faith with involvement, communication, listening, collaboration, or the final trump card: transparency.
The best social media companies rely on transparency for others to easily find and share information about your company’s goods and services.
The best social media companies only edit site comments against spam bots not fear of negative comments.
Good social media companies already leverage transparency and involvement of others to provide feedback and gauge company message relevance.
Culture That Enables, Not Disables
Mature social media company policy shows, documents, and leverages open trust for internal employee access to sites while at work. Access based on a level of trust, not a level of distrust.
The strong company knows they hire, train, and communicate with their employees the expectation for web access and company information.
Laggard companies continue to manage in a pre-World War II, management philosophy of command and control.
Social media policies are set because these type of companies are certain employees with access will screw up. Access and transparency only provide the rope for employees to hang themselves – and think of that liability?
The company knows better how to protect you from yourself. Theory X management, how very paternalistic.
Strength-based cultures develop policies through trust and the follow a strong management commitment to communicate, educate, and train you on what is expected. The effort is not spent on employees that management can not trust.
If web 1.0 brought about the concept content is king, the maturity to a web 2.0 and social media environment achieved through the concept community is king.
No Community, No Motivation
Without community you can’t have motivation. How can you develop a community unless you are a transparent part of a community?
How do you seek to understand community without spending time invested in a community?
Well, as the above holds true to the individual the same holds true for the organization.
Community versus gulag. Marketing 2.0, web 2.0, and social media present a revolution many companies continue to barricade their citadel gates against. Is your company leadership and marketing cowering behind the gates hoping to outlast the pagan horde?
Does social media embody the best your organization culture has to offer? I will look at this in a second, follow-up, post: Company social media strategy reflects organization culture — sales
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You mentioned that organizations ought not be like countries where governments filter the news and punish those who criticize the government. However, organizations have been known to penalize employees when their employees posts off work hours on their personal/desktop/laptop on social media web sites unfavorable comments regarding their employer. How likely is it the company will retaliate against a whistle blower; who after exhausting traditional means turns to the companies blog etc. to address a concern?
We would like to think punitive companies who track down employees through social media are the minority. Yes, those type of companies led by those type of leaders do exist, just as dictatorships, as a form of government, remain despite being a minority.
Recently viewed an article a May 11th article from MacWorld: California moves to stop employers demanding Facebook passwords. Sad, but seems to be true. Companies, particularly legal counsel within companies, seem terrified with the discovery that not everyone likes them or that people do have opinions.
An employee of a company, unlike a citizen living under a country led by a dictator, has options:
No matter the course, as in any communication or relationship, we can not expect impunity from our actions.
Whistle blowers? Whistle blowers seem the extreme case. After all else is exhausted, legal channels are set to protect whistle blowers. Are whistle blowers guaranteed safety? Always? I can not answer that for 100%.
Do countries do bad things? Yes. Do companies do bad things? Yes. The common denominator: both countries and companies involve people and people, at times, can do bad things.
Fortunately, people doing bad things to other people reveals an aberrant quality. Social media is a revolution. And like all revolutions, there is no linear progression.
“New Marketing … isn’t magical. What’s magical is what happens when an organization uses the new marketing to become something it didn’t used to be—it’s not just the marketing that’s transformed, but the entire organization. Just as technology propelled certain organizations through the Industrial Revolution, this new kind of marketing is driving the right organizations through the digital revolution.” Seth Godin, Meatball Sundae
In revolutions the power base may hold on in a bloody fight to retain their position. When revolutions are ignited some are squashed sometimes those who fomented it are rooted out. However, in some revolutions, some leaders do move aside and ease the inevitable transition.
Seth Godin writes extensively and persuasively When ideas become powerful about you shake up the foundation – 2 links as an examples.
Does Seth Godin espouse these views from a naive or dangerous position? I do not get that sense, rather he has lends hope of what could be. And hope is the greatest enabler.