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I just stumbled onto a post (thanks Twitter!) from 2009 by Ross Mayfield, Co-Founder of SocialText, called The Social C.R.M. Iceberg.  It’s a long piece but Mayfield’s insights and anecdotes about how social engagement is empowering organizations is worth the time for any of you who are pondering your company’s social strategies.

Some excerpts to whet your appetite:

Greg Oxton from the Consortium for Service Innovation (CSI) shared with me a model for understanding how engaged enterprises really are:

  • 1% of customer conversations are assimilated as organizational knowledge
  • 9% of customer conversations touch the organization, but no learning occurs
  • 90% of customer conversations never touch the organization

But before you leap into reinventing your processes for transformative value, step back. You can’t collaborate with your customers before you learn to collaborate with your employees. In the spectrum of risk taking, its best to deploy from the inside-out.

In larger organizations such as Intel, if you measure it, you will find people spending a day a week searching for people and information. This isn’t just a search problem, its a sharing problem.

Have you ever asked a question on Twitter? Odds are, you got a pretty decent answer if you have a decent sized network. You probably got a couple of answers, mostly from people you know, with real social context. They may have informed a decision, but the amazing thing is how you did it. You didn’t interrupt anyone. You didn’t occupational spam a mailing list, run down your buddy list or worse, call a meeting. You didn’t demand real time interaction from someone, or have them spend 15 minutes cognitively recovering back to the task at hand (the interruption tax). But with Twitter, and enterprise microblogging, it is a reply-optional medium that benefits from brevity. The benefits of being able to get answers from people without substantially decreasing productivity is hard to measure, but should be clear.

We can grow the 1% of conversations about a brand that a company learns from, most likely to 10%, and do so with systems as the barrier, with less time looking for people and information and with more people contributing informing your decisions faster. This 10% should be your goal this year, and you should start working on the other 90% by listening first.

Learning is perhaps the most important step in these times. You need to sense changes in this turbulent environment, make sense of these changes, and how you should adapt. Having conversations about the conversations around your brand.

When I first started blogging, Ross’ posts were an important influence towards how I engaged my readers.  If you are interested in how social media is changing our businesses and the world around us, I recommend you add him to your reading list.

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