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Is Your Corporate Culture Hurting Your Social Media Policy?

According to IBM employee and blogger Adam Christensen in his recent post, The Impact of Corporate Culture on Social Media, “[Corporate] culture is…the most overlooked, underestimated factor determining whether social media succeeds or fails in a company.”

He ought to know. IBM has successfully implemented social networking into its day-to-day employee and customer relations – something Jennifer McClure of the Society for New Communications Research talks about in this recent interview podcast from Marketing Voices.  She argues that corporate culture is one of the greatest predictors of a company’s ability to successfully adapt to social media.   

Her research has found the common denominator among companies – like IBM – who’ve successfully embraced social media to be a corporate culture where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and sharing their viewpoints about their experiences – both internally and with clients.

If you have the time, you should definitely check out the interview, but here are the major takeaways for companies that want make social media a part of their organizations:

  •  Be honest.  Before you can even think about implementing social media into your organization, you need to assess your company’s readiness to make the transition to what will be an even more open, egalitarian culture.   Consider the following questions, “How does information flow at my company? Is it a command and control structure, or is it a more open environment? Do we have 360 Reviews? Do we listen to employees? Do we ask them what they think?” (Better yet, check out Zappos’ Zappos’ 10 Commandments for shaping corporate culture.)
  • Start simple. The most basic way to start is with a company Wiki (as either a substitute for or supplement to a company intranet) Employees can post thoughts or comment on company decisions – or give feedback on proposed company initiatives. 
  • Be patient.  One of the major obstacles to adapting social media is a lack of understanding about how to get started.  You need to collaborate among various departments, and put forth equal effort to learn .  (Read  Chris Brogan‘s  12 Ways to Sell Social Media to Your Boss for a quick how-to on getting the right people to okay your social media program.)

Embracing social media not only enables your employees to voice their opinions, concerns and ideas, but it enables you to listen to and – even better – address those opinions, concerns and idea.   “That can only benefit a company,” McClure says.

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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