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This is a guest post by entrepreneur, Mark Cunningham

Frankly put, enterprises have to use social tools both internally and externally in order to continue to be competitive businesses.

You’ve been hearing the call to action for years. And if you aren’t feeling it now, in a quarter or two you will begin to see it in your loss of revenues and in the sudden success of your competitors.

But, since I know we all “get” the impact of the social enterprise and its direct line to your company’s success, I won’t keep banging that drum. You already have programs and teams righting your company ship away from break waters and toward open, social seas — where opportunity lies.

It’s not just Facebook and Twitter!

It has always been the ability to bring all the intelligence, analysis and experience you have so that it can be leveraged to get you where you’re going.

If you’re only measuring Facebook and Twitter you are missing more than 60 percent of the conversations that are taking place in and around your organization – in essence, sailing a ship to nowhere. For a social enterprise to thrive, you have to add the same amount of consistency of focus and analysis that you would apply to any other aspect of your business.

What should we measure in the social enterprise?

I’ll be honest. To some extent, it is about the number of friends, retweets, shares, and likes. But more importantly, it’s about measuring conversations. Getting deep into what people are actually saying, what trends are driving your teams, identifying the people passionate about your company and unveiling hidden leaders in your organization – that is what the social enterprise is about.

But if you can’t see into your tools; if you can’t measure effectiveness, change and opportunity, then you are missing the key to raising a culture of social collaboration with your employees, customers and partners.

Here are five pointers to help you understand where you need to go tomorrow, and how fast to get there:

  • Find out whether your company is engaged: Understanding what percentage of your enterprise, and users, are actually getting engaged is critical for the success of your social programs, and should be your very first key performance indicator. Measuring the growth of any network in your company, and when usage ebbs and flows, is the first step to leveraging the stream for greater opportunity.
  • Reach out to the biggest contributors: Some people in your enterprise will just “get it”. They’ll love being social and immediately see the value of a new way of working. These are your power users; they contribute a lot, whether it’s simple status updates or documents, ideas and intelligence that could impact strategies and changes. By identifying your key contributors, you can not only leverage their expertise but extend their reach and usefulness.
  • Understand feed types: By looking at the type of feeds you can learn more about how your business uses Social CRM and collaboration. Understanding trends according to feed type gives you a clear indication of the level of collaboration in your social feeds, or whether the feeds are simply providing a new pathway for knowledge sharing through auto-generated content.
  • Monitor trending topics, mentions and tags: Depending on your type of business, what conversations or topics are most popular can change during the course of a day. When the East Coast team wakes up, news about your largest European customer win might be most popular. At the same time a marketing campaign you rolled out last week might take a few days to pick up steam and you can watch it as it rises. Even more important are the mentions and tags within any given conversation. If “earnings announcement” is cropping up in posts, you need to know where, with who and what they are actually saying. Whatever the subject, trending topics, mentions and tags are peaking the interest of your employee network. Understanding what these are and what actions and strategies can be taken from them could be your next product, or new customer.
  • Create group activities: Groups are a great way to get people interacting with customers, partners and employees. They can be departmental, or by interest, or project. But how do you know if the groups are successful? And what if another group has popped up that is thriving? Understanding what groups are working and active and which ones aren’t can act as a looking glass into teams, people and topics that are important to your employees.

This decade has ushered in a fundamental shift in the way companies conduct business; hyper local, hyper social, one-to-one and one-to-many interaction that carries a dialog all the way to the point of sale. For the first time, in-person interactions are being re-enacted online just as they would face to face. This means that the keys to success and failure are living in the nuances of every conversation.

You can’t just stare at the social stream and use your gut to know if it’s working or not. You have to measure the entire enterprise – internally and externally – and then, like everything else you do, analyze and act.

Mark is Founder and CEO of Indicee. He started his career founding The Cunningham Group, to begin building the world’s first Windows-based reporting tool, Crystal Reports in 1991.

Crystal was acquired by Seagate Software (which in turn was acquired by Business Objects and SAP) and Mark went on to launch several new ventures, including Symmetrics, a producer of contact center productivity software, where he is now chairman, and the Symmetrics Pro Cycling Team, once North and South America’s top-ranked cycling squad. Along the way, he’s built an enviable customer list that includes Nike, Pfizer, Xerox, Microsoft, Veritas, Nortel and the U.S. Postal Service.

Image via Shutterstock

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