The Collaborative Effects of Social Media in Business

At Avaya Evolutions in Dallas, Guy Kawasaki and Avaya’s Brett Shockley discuss the use and collaborative effects of social media in the enterprise and on customer service.

Brett Shockley: A big part of Avaya’s mission is enabling collaboration within the enterprise. Social media has fostered unbelievable collaboration in all facets of our lives. How do you see social media in the workplace being used to drive collaborative and positive engagement to achieve business results?

Guy: The collaboration in social media has set expectations for high quality and responsive interaction in order to get more friends, followers, and fans. I think this kind of behavior is becoming ingrained in people, and it’s bound to spill over into enterprise collaboration. This is a very interesting case where consumer to consumer is going to affect internal communication and collaboration. After all, if loose connections in social media can collaborate, one would hope that people at the same company can collaborate even more.

BS: A 2012 NM Incite survey titled, “State of Social Media” found that consumer-created reviews and ratings have become the preferred source for information about product and service value, price, and quality. Tell me a little about the do-it-yourself, peer-review culture that appears to be so closely linked to social media.

Guy: The most obvious place that I encounter this is Amazon book reviews. It used to be that people use the association of prestigious publishers as a proxy for quality. Now people just look at how many stars a book has and read a few reviews and make a buy/no-buy decision. Building awareness about a book is done through social media, not advertising in the New York Times book review section. It’s a whole new world out there.

BS: You recently wrote a book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur — How to Publish a Book. I can’t help but feel like this is the social media, do-it-yourself approach applied to the publishing industry. Tell me about the book and the catalysts that compelled you to write it.

Guy: You’ve got that right! The catalyst is the democratization of the publishing process so that anyone with a computer and Internet access can publish a book on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. The totality of the process involves writing, producing, and marketing a book–that is what you have to do if you’re self-publishing. And these three roles involve being an author, publisher, and entrepreneur.

BS: Coinciding with the explosive growth of social media is the monumental shift to mobile in all forms of digital interaction. How can businesses meet their customers on their mobile devices and on the go?

Guy: In a few years, we’ll feel silly for even wondering how to make mobile implementations work when it becomes the predominant way for businesses to interact. The evolution has been website, mobile version of website, and now a custom smart phone app. I’d rather interact with Bank of America with its Android app than its mobile or desktop websites. So I see businesses on the cutting edge using custom smartphone apps to front-end the big data that businesses maintain.

BS: Social media has spurred innovation in numerous and varied sectors and markets. Where have you seen innovation with regard to social media in business and the enterprise?

Guy: I love when companies implement an internal Twitter type of network. This means that communication is very short and there is not a lot of carbon copying and blind carbon copying, and you tweet directly to the CEO of the company instead of going through layers of management. Email has become so anarchic. Social media in business is a lot more efficient.

BS: Businesses, in order to compete in today’s connected world and within flat markets, need to excel at customer service and accessibility to gain an edge on competition. Can we expect a similar situation within enterprises where an increased level of communication works to flatten an organization and empower employees?

GUY: It’s helpful to think of employees as one kind of customer of companies. Using internal social media to reach these customers is highly effective and refreshing. Leaders need to be open to being on the firing line, but the overall impact, I believe, is good.

BS: In the same vein, could this work in reverse? Might business decisions in a connected enterprise of the future not fall squarely on the shoulders of executives, and possibly the decision be crowd sourced across an entire company?

GUY: Not sure if the business decisions can be made in a crowd-sourced way, but the data and discussion that leads up to decisions can be crowd sourced. At some point, however, a leader does have to make the decision and move forward with implementation.

Guy Kawasaki is the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

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