When you ask the question; “How are you using social media in your supply chain management?” many small, medium and even very large companies simply respond by saying “What do you mean?” In fact most individuals interested in how to leverage social media for a business purpose would say that this tool in supply chain management has not been well developed.
Adrian Gonzalez in the article entitled “The Social Side of Supply Chain Management”, argues that social media should be in supply chain management because at its core social media is about people to people communication and collaboration. He goes on to suggest that since social media use in business purposes is a “new frontier” you need to be willing to take chances, to experiment because at the end of the day “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
He offers some practical parameters for this experimentation:
- “Don’t get caught up with buzzwords. Focus instead on the work that needs to get done, and see if social networking tools are a better, more effective solution than email, conference calls, and other ways you’re currently communicating and collaborating with colleagues and external partners.
- Encourage young professionals on your team to take a leadership role in finding opportunities to improve existing processes using social networking tools and to train/mentor colleagues who are less experienced using these tools.
- Develop guidelines, a training program, and a governance structure on social networking use that allows employees to experiment and innovate, but also clearly defines roles, responsibilities, and boundaries.”
I am interested in practical examples of the use of social media and that is how I discovered Halton Photog . The site won a local newspaper award in 2014 for use of social media and brings together the photographers from the Oakville Beaver, Burlington Post, and Milton Champion to contribute to the page. This page in turn links back to the Inside Halton.com which pulls together the news from across the Halton Region. Adults are looking to social media for their news and in fact according to the Pew Research Centre in an article News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016 a majority of US adults, 62% get news on social media. Nearly 66% of users get news from the Facebook platform, 59% of Twitter users from that platform and 70% of Reddit users get news on that platform. The Halton Photog page responds to this growing trend leveraging the resources from three newspapers to create a portal to the news across Halton Region.
In an interview I conducted with Riziero (Reg) Vertolli about the page, he said first of all they have respect for social media and there was a strong desire to develop a strong foothold on social media. They recognized early that they needed to develop a presence particularly on Facebook as local newsreaders were growing in their use of social media, and in particular their use for scanning for local events and news. Reg indicated the importance of the use of digital media as it grabs the individual’s attention. The ultimate goal is to attract “Likes” and “Follows” as this then puts the content on the individual’s personal timeline. A key to the success of any newspaper is the distribution network and attracting readers. The strategy employed by Halton Photog grows the distribution network as the content is shared with the individual’s contacts. The photographers cover a variety of events in the communities they serve and Reg noted you can grab some pretty quick photos of an event and then share with # event, and if possible get the individuals or organizations twitter handle @ and share the content. Again the effort is to grow the distribution network getting their news content and visibility out to an even larger audience as threads grow and more of the individuals’ social community becomes involved. The Facebook site then links back to Inside Halton news site and from there to the three newspapers covering the Halton Region. They have grown to add Twitter and Instagram appealing to people on a variety of platforms. Reg summed up their efforts saying:
“Before the digital age of journalism, the competition to stay in business was fierce. You needed to get the news to the readers first and be exclusive if at all possible. Today, nothing has changed. you need to capture your audience as quickly as you can using multiple platforms and keep updating your story as the news event evolves.”
The collaborative effort is aimed at increasing the social foot print of the newspapers and ultimately growing the distribution network and is a fine example of divisions of a company working together to improve the supply chain.
Developing trust is a key to collaboration in the supply chain. In the paper Developing Trust and Relationships in the Supply Chain Using Social Media, it is indicated that information along the supply chain traditionally stays only with a select number of people during each step of a process but the nature of social media and the technology that is currently available enables collaboration and co-operation between employees and trading partners. The use of social media in the supply chain offers the opportunity for greater depth of information, and to deal with information and its effect on the supply chain in a much quicker way. According to the article, “frequent and visible sharing of information and knowledge helps build trust.” Projects like Halton Photog demonstrate the success that can be built by leveraging trust relationships across the supply chain.
Lessons for Others
- Quite often practical relatively inexpensive business solutions can be found through leveraging social media in the supply chain. During the process of looking for examples of how businesses were using social media in the supply chain, it was easy to find some relatively quick examples of how the businesses spoken with could better leverage social media to meet their business needs. This speaks to the need to look at what work needs to get done and how Social Media tools can be applied and not get caught up in the buzz.
- As workplace staffing becomes smaller and smaller with less people expected to get more work done we need to use social media across the organization to get input into how to streamline systems. Social media allows for the input from partners and employees across the supply chain to work towards improvements as impacts in one area cascade through the chain.
- There are not a lot of good examples of how social media has been practically applied in the supply chain and there is a need for organizations and businesses to try new approaches and learn from any successes or failures. Develop guidelines for how this experiment and learn environment will work. Don’t over plan the implementation of new initiatives using social media.
- There are opportunities to collaborate with similar businesses organizations to work on supply chain issues starting with relatively simple issues and then escalating the sensitivity of the issue as trust is built.
Halton Photog - Metroland Media
Industry: News Media
Name of Organization Contact: Riziero Vertolli, Director of Photography
Authored by: Mike MacEachern, student, SMBP, University of Waterloo
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Gonzales, A. (2015, Sept. 11). The Social Side of Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain 247, retrieved from http://www.supplychain247.com/article/the_social_side_of_supply_chain_management_all_pages
Gottfried, J and Shearer, E (2016, May 16). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016, Pew Research Centre, retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/
O’Leary, Daniel E., Developing Trust and Relationships in the Supply Chain Using Social Media (July 22, 2012). Marshall School of Business Working Paper. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2115202