[Case Study] Enhancing Organization with Social Network
At the very beginning when my group have chosen to use American Airlines as our case organization, we have discussed how to micro-blogging platform and implementation of corporate wiki would be beneficial to them. We can conclude that AA is an airline that is very dedicated to both of their environments, be it external – customer or internal – employees. As the title reads, I am going to introduce two very simple yet important strategies to making this happen using social network – finding an evangelist (internal and external).
An evangelist is someone who preaches and convert others’ thoughts and in this case, we are referring to a technology evangelist. According to Fredric Lucas-Conwell, a technical or technology evangelist is a person who attempts to build a critical mass of support for a given technology in order to establish it as a technical standard in a market that is subject to network effects, this strategy of employing an evangelist is important for AA to first set a benchmark in the airline industry by enhancing the organization using social network.
1. Finding an internal evangelist
The corporate wiki on AA has already been one of the many symptoms showing that they are concerned on the internal performance of the organizational structure, particularly project management. Through this platform, AA believes not only in knowledge sharing but also to facilitate and promote better communication and collaboration.
Acquiring the right personnel for being an internal evangelist has been a constant source of discussion right now on the Internet, however the bottom-line of the discussion is that different departments in an organization may have their own social network, in other words the network, although exist within a same organization, however they are all scattered apart and in silos.
This is also very much related to the traditional organizational behavior – top-down hierarchy model. When it comes to decision making, many departments have to be consulted, a draft proposal is reviewed by managers, being passed to a more senior level for preliminary screening and only reaching the top management for the final decision making. A strict traditional hierarchical organization hinders response to rapidly changing environments. It is slower to react to changes in market conditions, and less efficient in taking advantage of knowledge introduced from a variety of sources on the ground.
From a similar case study – which department ultimately gets the responsibility or accountable could be dependent upon the size of your organization and corporate culture. For example, Barger says social media at General Motors is “owned within the communications team, reporting up through the Vice President of Communications, who reports directly to the CTO / CEO. Social media leadership has a seat at the communications leadership table and acts as an integral part of the larger corporate communications function.” It is suggested AA to form a new specialized department for only Social Network / Media and do not interleave these responsibilities with a general public relation department, may also consider to restructure into a matrix structure organizational hierarchy (costly but high intangible return looking at long-term return).
2. Finding an external evangelist
Besides corporate wiki, AA also uses the micro-blogging platform to solve customer service issues. AA believes that being responsive to the customers’ queries are most important when they have brought customer support to the Internet world, and a social media support team is formed to ensure the customer support experience provided by AA is at top-notch.
Another option to consider is using external resources / employing external evangelist (i.e. consultants or a most cost-saving approach – professional SEO bloggers and power of media) for certain aspects of the strategy and internal resources for the rest. Internal resources are definitely to be used primarily whenever possible, given that the goals of the organization is to become more responsive to their customer; and also to incorporate insight back into the organization. This is part of the effort getting the social network to collaborate more effectively.
AA could utilize external technology evangelist like professional bloggers. This approach is less cost-consuming as these external resources are not permanent assets of the company unlike the internal staff employed. Other alternative could be utilized is the power of mass media. These alternatives allows AA to be promoted and publicized in a more un-bias channel. Also, use agency partners for monitoring / measurement, for identifying new opportunities and new influencers for AA to reach out to, for video production, and for counsel on tactics/strategy.
Let’s take a little more in-depth in search engine optimization (SEO); see how SEO could be beneficial to this social network strategy. Creating content, be it on the blog (blogger.com), micro-blogging platform (twitter.com) or other large social media platforms (facebook.com), it is crucial to write contents with high relevancy in keywords and contents as this enhance the percentage of search-ability by major search engine (Google.com – captivating approximately 90% market share in search technology) as well as promoting the organization’s social network to be indexed properly. Two screenshots below showed the effort so far, AA has put in to allow search engine bots to index their social network on Facebook.com as well as some other improvements to be made.
Facebook Social Network of American Airlines being properly indexed with search keyword “American Airline Facebook”
Facebook Social Network of American Airlines not being properly indexed with search keyword “AA Facebook” – improvements required
Social network, in short, helps to enhance communication, collaboration and also not limiting to information dissemination, a rule of thumb to follow when sharing information either internally of or externally from an organization – DO NOT SPAM, send relevant information to the correct / targeted list of users on network. Just like the social media policies, it strategy for using social network to enhance organization needs to be constantly audited. Below are some quick tips from Meritus Media.
1. Listen to conversations
2. Establish share of voice
3. Set goal / benchmarks
4. Find bloggers and communites
5. Identify influencers
6. Develop a strategy
7. Pick tools
8. Create and deliver the content
9. Engage and facilitate conversations
10. Measure results
Before I end my post for today, I am proud to introduce Pin, the founder from evisaasia.com – Pin is a personal friend of mine and also my boss. eVisa Asia is a visa agent representing Asia, offering fuss-free visa applications online. Starting out small and offering visa applications to just one Asian country, the team has worked diligently during the last years to produce the ultimate visa application solution for all of Asia. Here’s his say as a guest blogger on social networks, short and brief but insightful (p/s drop me an email too should you have any enquiries on online visa application at firstname.lastname@example.org):
As invited by Adrian to write on his blog as a guest blogger, here’s my say. Social media provides an easier and broader reach-out rate compare to other medias. Yet, driving more ‘Likes’ or ‘Share’ may not always drive-in more conversions. In other words, it may not help you to sell more of your services or products.
First, organization must look into what services or products they are offering. Social interaction focus in anything more leisure and with common needs such as online games or hotel deals. Organization offering such services may enjoy a more direct impact with improved sales when they go for social media.
For product such as tourist visa, the needs is not random. Visitors from social media may not ready or not with intention to get their visa done through such the way, ie, facebook. They are more likely to use search engines to find out how the visa can be done.
Having say that, social platform can be still a very useful to all organization. It provides a better way to handle communications such as questions, support or discovery.
That wraps up the blog post for today, do share your thoughts with us if you have some other implementation strategies or managing strategies for social network. Do read up my other group member blog post for more strategies or approaches for enhancing organization with social network:
If you would like to know more about Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Social Media and etc, feel free to read on my other 7 posts by clicking here.