It's funny how new ideas and ways of doing business can sometimes take shape in companies. Contrary to popular belief, not all innovation comes from the research lab or executive management suite. Oh those guys usually get credit for it, but sometimes real change starts with a single person or small team of people buried deep within an organization.
A good example of this is when some former colleagues of mine at another company banded together in the early 90's on their own time to create the company's first Web site. No executive strategic vision. No corporate budget. They refused to wait around for management to tell them the Web was going to be something special. They just saw the future and literally jump started this Fortune 500 brand into the Internet Age.
I see a very similar trend in many companies today when it comes to social media.
In at least half of the companies I've met over the past two years, the initiative for social media is being driven by what I call Social Media Champions (SMCs). These people are forward-thinking individuals who have a knack for spotting important trends before their colleagues and bosses. Not all of them know exactly why it is important, but they just know it is. They don't have fancy social media jobs or titles, but they are real corporate change artists who have a true understanding of how new technologies can impact the companies they work for.
For SMCs - just like early Web pioneers - adapting new ways of doing business seem so obvious to them, but they are often frustrated because others can't see the world the same way they see it.
SMCs can work anywhere in a company. In just the past few weeks, I've met one who works in the purchasing department for a mid-size pharmaceutical brand, another in the IT department for a major food manufacturer, and yet another in the legal department for a consumer electronics company.
It's important for companies to not only recognize SMCs, but also seek them out. Here's a few indicators that you have a SMC among your staff.
- they are always trying out new technologies and applications - on their own time no less;
- they are happy to show others how to use the Web to improve efficiencies;
- they are highly connected and their "online rolodex" is far bigger than the one of their desk;
- they don't get discouraged when others criticize them for getting excited about "the next big fad;" and,
- they know how to impact change in a company in a very positive way.
Tags: social media