Description of how social media is used for business performance:
One interesting fact has stood out to me right at the beginning of my research. Home Depot is an early adopter of using social media in their supply chain management. What’s so amazing about that? It was a description that seems to be used for almost the last five years. Here’s a video from 2010 outlining how Home Depot is transforming their supply chain.
I think it’s important to recognize that these innovations have been taking place over the last few years and only a selection few companies have embraced the concept. Meaning other companies have yet to follow suit. Despite the success of certain companies, like Home Depot, TEVA Pharmaceuticals and GE, many companies are not introducing this element. According to the technology adoption lifecycle this suggests that a majority will be coming soon.
When social media first started to gain a widely publicized momentum, many employers were blocking the usage inside their companies. The following pie chart represents data collected by Supply Chain 24/7.
It seems that the popular social media tools are still being blocked for the majority of employees although companies have introduced teams who use social media tools to reach out to their customers. For the use of all employees, in some companies like Home Depot, internal tools have been developed to increase communication. This has found to be particularly useful in supply chain management. Home Depot developed ‘The Warehouse’ as a communication tool for their different stakeholders, for the supply chain link and for associates to share ideas and best practices.
Some of the benefits that a company could expect:
Lean Operations: Building relationships, sharing ideas and best practices.
Brand Development: Raising profile and raising moral.
Real-time Data: Tracking, sharing and monitoring. Allowing problems to be detected and solved quickly.
It was for these reasons that Home Depot felt it was a necessity to include social media in their strategy. For more insight into Home Depot’s marketing strategy check out this podcast interview with Erica Schultz, Home Depot’s online advertising manager.
“Whether you choose to call this phenomena ‘social media’ or ‘social computing’ or ‘web 2.0’ or something else, I think perhaps the most important point is that social media is not a ‘campaign’. It’s not something you ‘do’ the way you might traditional execute a print or television campaign. Instead, it’s about finding ways to connect and engage in an authentic, timely and relevant manner. We’ve seen an explosion in the number of tools you can use to help do that, but regardless of which tools you use, it really is one step, one point of contact at a time.”
Lessons for others:
Developing social media tools seems to leave questions with no answers. Is it worth the cost? Will it increase productivity? There is not enough data to properly answer these questions. One important thing though, unlike the existing public platforms, it increases security and privacy protection. I stumbled across a forum that seemed to invite Home Depot employees to talk about their excitement of the upcoming release of “The Warehouse”. What it ended up being was the accusations that some stores didn’t care or had the budget to replace the TVs in their staff rooms. I wouldn’t really want that out there for everyone to read. Internal tools are the best of both worlds. Giving employees the consent to be human, goof off a bit, share some opinions without the risk of it being read by the public. As I tried to get a comment from a manager at my local Home Depot about The Warehouse, I was told, “All inquiries go through Toronto”.
Unfortunately I never received anything back from their public relation department in Toronto but it really confirmed my opinion that companies can benefit by presenting a forum in house. It’s easier to monitor and impossible to share with outsiders.
Submitted By: Shannon Leak
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