In 1967 Stanley Milgram, an American social psychologist, conducted a series of experiments to study the nature of “small world” – a phenomenon produced by the overlap of personal social networks. For instance, he tried to find out the average path length for social networks of people in the US. He sent out 160 packages to randomly selected individuals in Kansas and asked them to deliver the package to a person living in Boston, Massachusetts. Since the senders didn’t know the package recipient personally, they were allowed to forward the package to somebody they knew on a first-name basis and who were likely to know the final recipient. The first package reached the recipient in Boston via only two people. However, on average the delivery chain consisted of 5 people. That’s how the theory of “6 degrees of separation” appeared. It suggests that anyone is 6 or fewer steps away from any other person in the world.
Academics all over the world speak about the role of informal social networks in organizations. They argue that such networks can empower generation of new ideas, increase collaboration between different organizational units, simplify processes, as well as improve motivation and retention of employees if supported by management. However, such networks lack accountability. So despite all the benefits of using informal networks to get job done, management is skeptical about their implementation into existing organizational processes.
The technological development brought us social media. It rose to popularity quickly; according to latest Pew Research report 73% of online adults used at least one social networking site in 2013. Social networking sites can be described as special platforms that embrace social interaction and exchange. At the same time, they allow tracking participants’ activity and see their contribution to different topics. Taking into consideration these particular features of online social networks, a question arises: why don’t we use social media platforms to foster collaboration and creativity inside the organization?
Developing digital presence of C-Suites is crucial for company’s image. Employers are on social networks, business partners and customers are on social networks, and what is even more important – competitors are on social networks. However, less than 1/3 of top CEO’s are on social media (source: Forbes).
Companies where CEOs are present in social media and use it to connect with all the shareholders are more successful in many ways than those who don’t. According to the 2013 BRANDfog report, “innovative C-Suite and senior executives are at the forefront of social engagement, utilizing social media to attract new talent, deepen brand loyalty, increase purchase intent, and establish brand transparency.” At the same time, in general CEOs are often reluctant to join social media because of potential risks and unwillingness to adapt to greater transparency and changes. So how can we motivate C-suites to participate?
Kadushin, one of the most renowned social networks analysts, mentions that “keeping up with the Joneses”, i.e. motivation to compare oneself with others in the same network, is one of the fundamental aspects of social networks. We can suppose that this motivation is stronger for those network members who have already achieved a lot (like CEOs). So, if we give our C-suites a person to keep up with, maybe they will go social just for the sake of this competition?
Klout score can be used as a simple tool to measure C-suites presence on social media. In addition to it, Klout will allow them to keep track of “the Joneses”’ success. The only problem is to find the “Joneses”. i.e. a right person to compete with (this should be definitely another CEO that they are aware of and who has a strong presence in social media).
How do you think, will this work? What are your ideas?