Social media has emerged as a new trend in technology that allows businesses to interact, communicate, understand and reach prospects and clients in ways that were never thought possible. Social media technology is essentially separated into three main categories: monitoring and listening, marketing automation, and collaboration. The following expert tips will help organizations get started with creating a social media strategy for manufacturing collaboration.
Before drafting a social media strategy, an organization must first understand what it is trying to achieve and then research the applications that can accomplish and execute these initiatives. It's essential to understand the two main areas in which collaboration tools can be applied, which are the internal and external components of the business.
One step commonly overlooked when creating a social media strategy is defining the organization as business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B) or both. This will help in determining whether collaboration efforts should be focused internally and externally. In both areas, manufacturing collaboration is classified and executed in different ways.
External vs. internal manufacturing collaboration social media strategies
When looking at external collaboration -- meaning people outside of the organization -- companies should start with the customer base. Collaborating with existing customers can provide valuable information about their experience, needs, service and product ideas, feedback, and support. Crowdsourcing and knowledge capture are two good starting points for an external social media strategy. Crowdsourcing will allow the organization to solve problems through a distinct group of people using collaboration. Knowledge capture gathers information from a variety of sources, which can provide valuable business intelligence.
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A good strategy for internal social collaboration starts with understanding the internal environment of the organization and applying applications that will enhance collaboration and be utilized to their full potential. Once it is clear where social collaboration makes sense, there are many potential benefits. Social collaboration tools allow organizations to share knowledge, information and content; manage meetings discussions remotely; solve customer issues; provide support and make it possible for management to monitor activity.
Having a social collaboration tool in place obviously has its benefits, but one thing to consider in terms of a strategy is the possible disruption of work. As with any live feed interaction platform, there is the urge to jump into discussions, offer advice and even sit back and observe the traffic. Providing strict user policies should be implemented around what information can be discussed, which boundaries should not be crossed, and who should be utilizing the tool and monitoring the traffic. Social media technology may seem like a light solution for companies, but there is still the need for change management when introducing a tool that requires this much interaction.
As social technology has grown more advanced, the need to collaborate has become more alluring for companies wishing to interact with their customers and allow employees to share information, communicate, and meet in new and unique ways. As with any software technology initiative, companies must take the time to understand their business needs and research all options to make informed decisions.
In summary, to create a social media strategy for manufacturing collaboration, organizations need to do the following:
- Assess the technologies that align business objectives and what they are trying to accomplish.
- Decide whether a strategy centered on B2B, B2C or both will work and, if so, evaluate solutions accordingly.
- Set the stage for change management to accommodate the new system.
- Implement social media guidelines with clear policies, boundaries and disciplinary actions in case of abuse.
- Create metrics and procedures around handling social media interactions.
About the author: Keean Persaud, managing director at Eval-Source, has more than 15 years of enterprise software experience. His experience in the software industry comes from leaders such as IBM and National Instruments, and has guided him toward specialized application sales of TMS and business software tools. Persaud created vendor programs, managed and created channels, created company-wide sales strategies, sold software, and is co- creator of the Tru-Eval system.
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