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How Attributes of Social Media are Changing Corporate Performance

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How Attributes of Social Media are Changing Corporate Performance

The sheer volume of people ‘engaging’ in Social Media these days has neuroscience professionals studying brain patterns that they might draw correlations in accordance with other emotional responses from activities including shopping, alcohol, romance, and more. These studies have mobilized big-brand marketing to universally reallocate traditional media dollars to Social Media platforms.

Lessons learned from consumer behaviors are helping corporate employee-engagement experts to capitalize on the momentum in self-motivated, peer-driven participation. You may have heard about the online game “Farmville” that has permeated Facebook, where adults, teens, and children almost compulsively build their farms, collect points to achieve farm animals and objects, and share points and items to help their friends to build. The game offers its 60-70 million participants a creative outlet and free form of entertainment, engagement, and self-expression. It is so wildly popular, in fact, that marketing leaders are taking a hard look to see how they can go beyond the free platform to sell product and brand.

Positive Perception

Like motivation behaviors seen in Farmville, corporate recognition, rewards, and incentive programs for employees are actually the unsung pioneers of ‘social points’ activity. Those behaviors and mechanisms, described editorially as Motivation 3.0, have been adopted as ‘next-gen’ engagement principles towards re-building trust into corporate culture, stimulating high participation, and actually changing employee behaviors. As you read through the following paper, you will see a correlation between Social Media trends and the best-in-class solutions to affect changes that are meaningful for both employees and employer.

Consumers are making decisions based on information they glean from their networks and use that knowledge to take action and influence others. Where historically a conversation might occur between a couple of people over the phone or at a gathering, Social Media environments are allowing large groups of people to hear, participate in, and share conversations - positive and negative.

To assess the business value attainable through such forums as blogs, wikis, discussion boards, and innovation platforms, the CIO practice at Forrester Research recently surveyed 303 information-technology staffers who use Social Media in the course of servicing their organizations. Seventy-two percent of the respondents said Social Media has a positive impact on productivity in the front office, 70% said it makes IT operations more productive, and 61% said it makes the back office more productive. The potential to harness the power of both consumer and employee participation in social context may well be the most critical shift in the sphere of employee engagement to have appeared in decades.

Changing Behaviors for Good

The mantra for excellence in business is embodied in the behaviors of company and employees in articulating and communicating brand messages that are meaningful and rewarding to employees, partners, and customers. From Social Media, we have learned that people derive meaning that is emotionally charged when they engage on their own terms. When the correlation between corporate and individual values is enhanced through communication and performance metrics, the participation can be measured for incremental behavioral changes. These changes are representative of both a shared and individual purpose. By leveraging the power of online systems, corporations provide a familiar Social environment, similar to those in which people have already chosen to engage during their own time.

Previous rewards and recognition solutions focused primarily on cash incentives, which can ‘move the bar’ temporarily for a company, but which are often criticized as quickly becoming an expected part of compensation and lacking emotional significance. When points-based systems first emerged, the new tools added dimension to employee recognition for knowledge, behavior, and results, as awarded by managers and/or peers. Today’s solutions have, once again, integrated societal interests that include wellness and innovation, and identify other motivators including the need to ‘collect’ or ‘contribute’.

We can see that, today, the structure of recognition and rewards solutions has to be such that continuous change nurtures interest according to societal trends. It must enable the thoughtful consideration of brand values as inherent to the initiative, and it must allow for contribution, participation, thought leadership, and rewards participation across all silos or types of work.

The language of motivation is growing to keep pace with Social Behaviors, encompassing people’s needs for contribution to safety, innovation, and charity, as well as their need to collect accolades, points, recommendations, and thanks. In addition to achieving or unlocking rewards, collection of points ‘for the sake of collecting’ is demonstrated in Social Behaviors.

In spite of the recent emergence of dynamic programs targeted to improve education, safety, innovation, and wellness, respondents were over two times more likely to indicate that their company offered traditional awards than newer, self-motivating solutions that are mimicking the online revolution in consumer-based Social Media marketing. You can bring the power of Social Behaviors to your employees by offering intrinsic/extrinsic motivation rewards and recognition programs. Peer-to-Peer awards let people recognize each other. Team-based activities allow for relationship-building and trust. Wellness programs show that you care about employees’ health challenges and that you want to help through education and online tools. Open ‘suggestion programs’ accelerate innovation by creating a meritocracy.

The actions you choose in rewards and recognition programs, combined with the words and value messages that you choose to incorporate, can create some of the most meaningful and measurable programs ever. Expectations for outcomes should include things such as increased productivity, increased performance, increased satisfaction, increased innovation, increased wellness, safety, education, and reduced churn of employees. These goals should permeate your corporate culture for continued impact.

Excerpted from 'Social Behavior Engages Motivation 3.0,' published by Dittman Incentive Marketing. Copyright 2010. For a copy of the full report, go to: www.dittmanincentives.com.

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