Facebook and Twitter for business? Eight things you should do before diving in

The building blocks to anchor your social enterprise strategy...

Because getting into social media looks easy, many businesses make the mistake of charging in before the right plans are in place, says Gartner's Carol Rozwell.

Many organisations are lured into social initiatives. They are easy to implement and the tools are simple. Setting up a Facebook page requires little advance planning or intense technical skills - neither does employing Yammer internally.

Unfortunately, initiatives executed without a purpose face a number of potential problems. The issues range from brand dilution as a result of uncoordinated efforts to an inability to respond effectively to comments, questions and complaints expressed on social media.

Social media promises a wave of business change that threatens to be more disruptive than the ebusiness wave that preceded it. And yet many people think of social media as being the domain of marketing that is primarily customer-facing.

Social media

Every organisation needs to develop a framework to guide it through the changes wrought by social mediaPhoto: Shutterstock

Gartner says organisations will see all aspects of their internal and external operations changed by social initiatives. We predict that by 2015, 20 per cent of organisations employing social media beyond marketing will lead their industries in revenue growth.

For that reason, every organisation needs to develop a framework or social plan that will guide it through this uncertainty. Gartner's Eight Building Blocks framework outlines the elements necessary for a successful social enterprise strategy.

Whether focused on employees, business partners, customers, prospects or the social web, the initiative needs to address each of the eight components: vision, strategy, constituency experience, organisation collaboration, processes, information, technology and metrics.

Building block 1. Social vision

The social vision describes what a social business or mission looks like. It is a statement of what the organisation will become as a social business, one that takes into account the enterprise's business model and the specific position it occupies in its market.

The social vision should be developed by the organisation's senior leadership team and supported by the board of directors. It serves as a source of inspiration to the employees who will craft the strategy and tactics to meet the vision. It must also be consistent with the organisation's values.

Building block 2. Social strategy

The social strategy is a blueprint for how the organisation will create effective interactions with internal and external constituencies so that they become an organisational asset. It describes how the various functions in the organisation will engage with employees, business partners, customers, prospects and the broader social web.

The social strategy should be developed by a social steering committee, which can ensure that the disparate perspectives of people from different business functions are woven into a coherent strategic plan.

Building block 3. Constituency experience

As business gets social, organisations will use social technologies to engage with its constituency. This building block outlines what successful experiences look like for each of the groups.

An important aspect of designing the constituency experience is to...