Social Behind the Firewall – Part 3: “Two C’s” That Kill Social



Social tools aren’t always widely adopted within more companies. Why?

In the last post we identified misuse or misperception as well as change management burnout as critical factors that prevent wide adoption of social tools. In this post we add the “two C’s” to the list: competitive landscape and corporate culture. If not properly addressed, these “two C’s” can kill a healthy adoption of social tools at any company. However, we are convinced these are not insurmountable barriers.

Competitive Landscape

If the quality of a service offered by a company is highly subjective and the market is intensely competitive, customers will be incentivized to complain about the service for personal gain. One such example could be a company providing coaching for U.S. graduate school entrance exams (GRE, GMAT, etc) in a rapidly growing emerging market like China with aggressive competitors and demanding customers. In this case, the flow of information could cause customers to question the quality of the services received and the value of the company as a whole.

Corporate Culture

On the other hand, if the corporate culture contains ridged hierarchy and intense political environments, a premium will be created for hoarding information. Government agencies with extensive bureaucracy would be good candidates for such a corporate culture. In addition, private companies with a significant portion of their leadership from cultures with traditionally hierarchical relationship structures also typically foster such corporate cultures. In either of these scenarios, there is limited motivation to openly share information internally as it will harm the political positioning of the individual or their department. 

Fight, Flight or Something More Thoughtful?

Regardless of which of the “Two Cs” you face, a healthy flow of information within your company will be stymied.

It is tempting to over-simplify the solution into one of two categories:

  • Fight: Aggressively push social tools – even if it is against the grain
  • Flight: Get out of such a company or department as soon as you possibly can

However, we are convinced there are more nuanced solutions out there.

So, if social media fight or flight is not an option, what do you do if you are in a competitive landscape or corporate culture?

Reprinted by permission.
Image Credit: CC by Geoff Livingston

About the author: Joab Meyers

Joab Meyer, Supply Chain Business Operations Manager at Cisco Systems and David Wolf, Managing Director at Allison+Partner, aim to help companies chart a path to integrating social media into their internal communications. They are the co-creators of New Water Cooler blog  on social media in the workplace.

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