The 3 Layers of a Social Organisation

Coutesy of Attractology

With social media becoming omnipresent in everybody's lives, it is timely for companies to consider how they can transform themselves into "social organisations". This transcends the next evolution of companies that already practice social media marketing, and goes beyond the company-customer relationship.

A social organisation comprise multiple overlapping spheres of influence as illustrated below:

At the external level, a social organisation would interact and engage with its multiple stakeholders through various social channels and platforms. This can be as varied as public as forums, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Google + accounts, and LinkedIn pages to more exclusive networks such as email lists, extranets and member log-in websites.

Content heavy companies may also have video channels, photo pages and audio podcasts, sharing branded content with the rest of the world.

Moving deeper in, we have the organisational level of social businesses. Here, the various platforms of a social intranet would come into play - employee profiles, blogs, wikis, discussion forums, chat, and so on.

Social organisations would probably nurture an open culture of sharing with the CEO making a regular appearance on the corporate networks. Ideally, staff members from geographically dispersed locations would form collaborative networks amongst themselves, leveraging on technology to triumph over geography.

Finally, at its most intimate core, we have the individual level. While not every worker in a social organisation can become a hyper-connected advocate ala Robert Scoble (the world famous social media guru who cut his teeth as a content creator in Microsoft's Channel 9), it is still necessary for them to embrace the tenets of "going social".

To allay fears of being sued or sacked for "saying the wrong things" online, social organisations may wish to lay down guidelines on digital discourse. More importantly, a culture of trust and encouragement needs to be forged to encourage employees to speak up as opposed to shut up.

At present, most employees - and their bosses - are likely to tread the grounds of social spaces with some trepidation. To nudge these organisations along, it may be useful to find "social champions" to help blaze the trail forward. These alpha users could set the stage for the rest to follow.

In the future, however, I believe that more organisations will embrace the "social way". Guided by a philosophy of trust, transparency and openness, they will make their walls more porous, allowing ideas, knowledge, data and relationships to flow freely both inside-out and outside-in. Working in a fluid and seamless fashion, employees in such social organisations will leverage on social technology to improve communication, collaboration and innovation.

Hopefully, such a day will not take too long to arrive.

Bees are masters of building social organisations! (courtesy of ahow)

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