“Our biggest need as humans is connection,” Bryan Kramer, social business strategist and CEO of PureMatter says. Following this statement, he has written two popular books that bring readers deep into the meaning of sharing in today’s “human economy”. “Human to Human #H2H”, about bringing the people side of communication to the digital business world, became a bestselling book in its first week in 2004. “Shareology”, his latest work, follows a now-familiar formula, further exploring the Human to Human (H2H) theme: “Every company and person should operate from an H2H foundation. After all, everything has to be done in collaboration with somebody to make something work. Whether it’s developing products, coming up with a business solution, or communicating in general, H2H is the foundation.”
So, what can readers expect from Kramer? While taking a closer look at the society’s basic need to connect, the author dives into the fundamentals of social business. In “Shareology“, Kramer offers plenty of research, concrete examples drawn from corporate life as well as interviews with professionals in the field of social media, leadership, communication and technology. The result is an absorbing reading on the art of creating and sharing in the digital age.
The power of the crowd
The crowd is an image that recurs throughout “Shareology”: “Social and digital technologies allows us to use the power of crowds in ways never before possible for co-creating content, for crowd-sharing, and even crowdfunding. But the common denominator in the power of a crowd is shared emotion – something that connect us.”
The book mentions the prolific work of Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies and a leader in the Collaborative Economy movement, which is all about the convergence of the physical and digital worlds powered by the crowd.
Co-creation at work
Looking at internal communications specifically, I found the author’s thoughts on empowering the collective voice of employees completely accurate: “Organisational models have to change to allow internal collaboration and idea flow from employees and partners. We’ve seen too many businesses grab at the technology (or platform) piece first, totally ignoring the people that are involved in processes like creating social policies, integrating technology, and providing customer support.”
There are many ways an employee can take part in co-creation – from creating shared experiences, to sharing or re-sharing them. Yet, many companies still have problems with it. Kramer suggests involving staff in the process of generating content as opposed to producing it and then handling it to them to share. “When two or more people collaborate to create an experience, sharing becomes exponential. When an employee helps to create something, they’re proud of that work and are more likely to share it once it’s published.”
In fact, another aspect of giving colleagues a voice is enabling employee advocacy. The author likes to remind us that influencers can come from any place inside the company. To make his point he cites the CMO of CBIZ Mark Waxman, who holds a similar position and says:
“Yes, they [employees advocates] are out there. They may not be the ones you first think of. They are often not your managers, perhaps not your leaders. They may not be the first ones that come to mind. But buried in the cubicles and backrooms of every company are the young, socially aware and active employees looking for an opportunity to grow their career…using a path that they are uniquely qualified to follow!”
The message is clear. Find passionate people from anywhere across the organisation, offer them the tools they need, and empower them to lead so that they “can help you build an enthusiastic internal army of advocates.”
Knowing when not to share
Sharing has become indeed the way progressive organisations are approaching business and communication. But more isn’t always better. It is important, Kramer warns, to also recognise when and what not to share. For example, “even if you have good news to share every day about your company, that doesn’t mean you should. Good news (as well as bad news) should be well timed. Jumping all over something the minute you find out about it may have negative consequences or reduce the impact of what you’re sharing down the road.”
Organisations can solve this problem by investing in active social listening.
Social listening and analytics
Of all aspects of digital communication, social listening is perhaps one of the most important. It is also “one thing we should all practice more,” Kramer emphasises. It increasingly relies on powerful contextual technologies that “parse the river of conversation on any network.”. Here the opportunity is to engage effectively with people in real-time; find and offer solutions to problems; and reap big dividends in loyalty, trust and advocacy.
Leading edge companies are building and nurturing their own social listening teams. For example, American Airlines has done a remarkable job creating a Social Command Center. The Social Command Center, explains the author, provides employees with deep analytics. It helps them to “zero in on content that matters to them and powerful data visualisation tools like tag clouds and heat maps to help social media members make sense of the data. They can monitor regions across the globe, spot breaking trends, track mentions and images.”
Reading the story, there is really no telling how effective and essential social listening ultimately is.
Being a leader in the human economy
If leaders want to succeed in the human economy they need to understand the value of emotional intelligence too, writes Kramer. As our society progresses with sophisticated technology, high-performing teams will capitalise on what people can do uniquely. Author Dov Seidman, also cited in the book, contends the same:
“In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts. The know-how and analytics skills that made them indispensable in the knowledge economy no longer give them an advantage over increasingly intelligent machines. But they will still bring to their work essential traits that cant’s be and won’t be programmed into software, like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit.”
“The future is sharing, but we’ve become unused to it. We’re always running for the goal as individuals, even as we’ve been trying to get our teams to collaborate more. The future will be about opening up and sharing because the more we can get people to share, the faster we can grow as a society.”
Certainly, I find much to applaud in Kramer’s work. The author doesn’t fail to bring the meaning of humanity back into the world of digital communications. If you want to find out how leading social businesses have been concretely turned technology into an opportunity to effectively engage with people, then “Shareology” is the book for you.