I spent most of today reading (and re-reading) a lot of material about social media while working on a presentation. As I looked back over what I read, I started to rethink, what is the impact of social media on the enterprise. (For clarity, I am using “social media” here to mean the conversation that is occuring outside the firewall.)
The traditional thinking has been (at least my thinking) that social media has leveled the playing field between the underdog consumer and the imperialist corporation, allowing the little guy to fight back.
But now I think that nothing quite so machiavelian is happening. I work in a big company, and I have yet to meet anyone that has designs on taking over the world, or even fooling the customer. For the most part everyone is trying to do the right thing. I think what gets in the way, and is viewed externally so poorly, is just the inherent bureaucracy and friction that exists inside most organizations. It always looks worse from the outside than it does from the inside.
Where this is taking me is transparency. Even though social media is ostensibly an outside the enterprise phenomenon, what I believe is happening is that information that has trouble traveling through inside channels, escapes and travels rapidly on the outside and re-enters the organization at another point; therefore leading to changes more readily. Where it looks like social media is driving the change, the fact is that social media is merely facilitating the change that is having trouble happening via internal processes.
My conclusion therefore is that organizations should embrace social media as a way to improve and move forward, as opposed to an enemy to be faced.