Today I had the honor of being a guest lecturer at the ESB Reutlingen speaking about the different perspectives on social media and the challenges corporations are facing in that context.

Some of my key messages:
  • To adapt and use social media channels or social media inspired workplaces requires a sufficient understanding that relevancy and authenticity are key factors for success and impact (internally as well as externally)
  • Hierarchical thinking and silo-based work are the biggest hurdle to successfully unleashing true potential through social marketing, support and/or business
  • Marketing products, services and brands through social media channels requires fundamentally different thinking – really inspiring social media campaigns were (happily) driven by the target group itself and not corporate communications or marketing (ref to IKEA Malmo and EnBW's Niedrigenergie Musterland-WG camapign)
  • Social media inspired communication and information exchange require that functions such as Corporate Communications and HR (in particular – besides more or less all other departments) have to accept a certain (not full!!) loss of control – otherwise a lack of authenticity and agility instantly kill all social activities
  • Measuring social media inspired actions requires a new set of measures and view points; old models of measuring media performance or productivity won't work here (KPIs e.g.: active dialogues; re-used knowledge; service quality; innovation speed)

My learnings from today

After today I am asking myself if our thinking around the Generation Y is based on too many assumptions. Maybe our expectations towards the upcoming talent that seems to grow up in a fully networked world are too high… 

I would have never expected that (by a young audience) the issue of privacy would be raised in the context of LinkedIn-like personal profiles in an intranet. One student even made the experience of a profile-project failing in an organisation since there was no answer provided to 'what's in for me?' – the key motivation to setting up and maintaining a personal profile. Directly connected to that might be the privacy issue – if that wasn't solved it might have been the biggest barrier of all to succeed in the approach.

Even though I was aware of the fact that Twitter is mainly used by older generations (and not the hypest platform in Germany) I was suprised that some students didn't even know how Twitter works or what value it would have. Another ispriring discussion in the context of Twitter and its use for broadcasting and reaching out to larger (unspecified) networks happend around the question if the Facebook users of today will be the Twitter users of tomorrow. To be honest: even now I don't really know what the answer to that would be… Probably a definite 'maybe' considering that for some (and propably only a smaller portion) of users entering a professional career and starting to be more and more interested in diverse perspectives or in spreading ideas might trigger the interest in Twitter.

Maybe I have to revise one of my charts on change management and training efforts. We might want to take into consideration that even for the Generation Y social media isn't THAT present in its full bloom (besides that adapting it in business context will stay a challenge for the years to come). It might even strenghten my argument that enterprise 2.0 efforts aren't geared towards Generation Y entering the work force. It's more preparing for the generations after them…

A good friend of mine once developed the concept of 'follow to lead'. Maybe we have to follow the coming generations more closely in order to be and stay able to lead them. An interesting twist to my participation in the nofear-community.com on the 'new leadership' 😉

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