Facebook? Twitter? CIOs share seven tips for social media strategy

Advice from tech leaders on creating successful engagement through social technology...

...your wider network - and if your friends recommend a business, you're more likely to take a look," he says.

"If the business can make the most of those recommendations, then there's a fantastic opportunity. The business must understand that social media is not a passing fad."

5. Select tools based on the business problem

Nancy Knowlton, chief executive of Smart Technologies, traces a history of collaboration in the workplace to the 1980s and the suggestion that particular forms of networking technology, such as videoconferencing, would quickly change how business would work. "The reality is different," she says. "Old habits re-emerge."

Now, Knowlton notes a change. The C-suite believes the processes of collaboration need revamping and Knowlton believes such recognition is being driven by concerns about the speed of information delivery, the huge cost of unproductive face-to-face meetings, and the vast expense and hassle of global travel.

"CIOs are receptive to collaboration but are not necessarily using a common definition," she says. "For some, it's about working together and for others it's about email or SharePoint. People need to really think hard about social media. Technologies will need to support in-room collaboration, not just connectivity across space."

6. Use workable definitions

Ian Cohen, CIO at finance firm JLT, is concerned. He is a big advocate for collaborative technology and believes adamantly that modern organisations must engage with employees and customers via social technology. But, like Knowlton, Cohen is anxious that the language used to explain such tools is sometimes inappropriate.

"When did social networking change to social media?" he says, referring to the regular use of the phrase in business. Cohen is concerned the term is yet another buzz phrase associated with the use of IT that does little to help senior executives understand the true value of collaboration.

"The change to social media has not done the business any favours because it means collaboration has lost some of its cache with the board," he says. "Social media sounds pretentious and it sounds like something the kids do, whereas social networking sounds valuable. Networking is a dialogue the board can understand."

7. Make mobility work for your business

Like his peers, Aviva CIO Malcolm Simpkin is interested in tablet devices - he has to be. Consumerisation is causing management challenges for every organisation. He is not, however, rushing head-first into something that might not work for the business.

"We've got to find ways to allow people to use smart devices, while controlling their access - and that's the right thing to do," he says. "Access, like mobility generally, needs to be ring-fenced. As an organisation, we have to do what's right for the business."

With regards to mobility, Simpkin says Aviva is developing low-cost web 2.0 and social tools to see which platforms work for the customer. "It's all about scalability in reverse," he says. "We put technology out there, make sure it's popular, back up data use, and then act quickly to build up the platform if it's a success."

By Mark Samuels

Mark Samuels is a business journalist and editor at IT leadership organisation CIO Connect. He has written for various organisations, including the Economist Intelligence Unit, Guardian Government Computing and Times Higher Education.