How Social Is Your Organisation? 5 Things To Look For….

How social is your organisation?  Are you the life and soul of the party? Or are you perpetually in the kitchen?

And what do we even mean by being a social organisation anyway?

In his thought provoking post “Let’s get Sociable” , Phil Jewitt asked what role digital engagement could play in connecting with the public . A public often disengaged with authority.  It also asked how digital can effectively contribute to social change and impact, rather than just been seen as something that can save money.

It got me thinking about how an organisations online behaviour might indicate whether they are truly sociable. Here are 5 things I look for in “sociable” organisations:

  • They don’t broadcast –they engage. They know its not about them. They never act as if they are more important than the customer.
  • They show some personality and post thoughtful and relevant content. They share more of other peoples work than they do of their own. They promote others rather than themselves.
  • They are more than business. They seek out and rub shoulders with other people who have a similar social purpose – and they collaborate without regard for organisational boundaries. They demonstrate through their actions and outlook that they are seeking to make change happen.
  • They employ social people. Helen Reynolds has commented that she is “beginning to think the most effective way to achieve better government is to recruit people who display friendly, social qualities”. I can only agree. As more and more of our work gets automated the truly social organisation needs people who are interested in other people , not policies.
  • They take considered risks. They get out from behind the desk and try new ways to engage.  They walk the talk and try and reconnect with people where it’s most relevant to them.  Compare the disastrous public engagement exercise of the Police Commissioner elections with how The Royal British Legion used new media to engage the online world on Remembrance Sunday. Worlds apart.

That’s my five , but I’m sure you might disagree or can think of others.

I would love to hear your thoughts.


9 thoughts on “How Social Is Your Organisation? 5 Things To Look For….

  1. Good post. Appreciation of the need to engage with potential customers, rather than broadcast to them is still not being widely embraced. Why? Because, in my opinion, “engaging” requires more effort!

    1. Susan – thanks for the comment. It’s rather depressing but I think are right. It’s easier to broadcast. But constant broadcasting is one way – it’s means the organisation likes the sound of its own voice. And that’s why – for me – it fails the “sociable” test! Thanks again

  2. Your first two points are the big ones for me, Paul. I find those businesses that can hold a conversation and show more interest in their followers than what they want to be followed for, tend to have the biggest impact and influence on the social media platform.

  3. Thanks Andy. Me too. It’s like when you go to a party or something and someone is there than never listens to what others are saying and just talks and talks. You soon lose interest , smile , and can’t wait to get away. Business behaviour online can be exactly the same!

  4. Haha, so true Paul, never thought of it like that.

    They say you are the average of 5 of your friends; so why would you want to ‘hang around’ with friends like that? You want to be surrounded by positive people, those who genuinely want to listen and take the time to engage with you when you want to talk. It’s no different from the businesses you interact with online. Behaviour breeds behaviour.

  5. A good question to ask is how well does your mainstream organisation engage with customers? Does your customer help line involve 20 keypresses and 5 minutes of Vivaldi to get to talk to an operator in Mumbai? If so, a brilliant social media presence would just be, as the man says, putting lipstick on a pig.

    1. Great reminder Keith. A great social media presence does not equal great customer service. Message = Get the basics right!

  6. Customer service tends to be crap because of management pruning what they see as expenditure with no quantifiable return. How long do you give it until they start seeing social media activity in the same way?

  7. its about both sides managing mutual and reasonable expectations. when one is subservient to the other it is not a good relationship.

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