One of the abiding tenets of ‘Social Business’ has been the use of employees to spread the company’s marketing message. This is the problem of employee advocacy where the first order thinking is the following.
…. if your company prospers [the employees] will also, so it’s to their benefit to support your brand. The result is that if employees retweet or share content published by their marketing department, they could save their company thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising costs.
From a pure business perspective this is perfectly rational thinking – optimizing scarce resources in support of business goals. The missing element is the inherently different mechanics of social interaction – in person or via digital media. First, this is not a one-way broadcast and a reasonable opportunity for a dialog is assumed. Most Dilbertesque organizations have strict controls over who can engage on behalf of the company and who cannot. Second, a public retweet or ‘like’ is a personal endorsement. Employees have the inside view on how things are put together within an organization – and they are likely to assume that their product is not good enough. Trusting their own organization comes first. Public endorsements, next.
Getting employees to engage in social business is more than making it easier for them to ‘share’ approved marketing content. Successful social businesses will have to rethink organization culture and organization. It is a tightrope walk between too much flexibility and too little. Still, Enterprise 2.0 does not add window dressing on the periphery of industrial-age assembly lines but organizes itself as a knowledge network that it really is.
Dilbert needs open, social interaction within his company before he retweets some of it.