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Social network superheroes

07 Jun, 2016

Nicolas Legay, Head of Digital Marketing


Nicolas Legay, Head of Digital Marketing & Communication CIB at BNP Paribas, shares a vision of today's social superheroes. Who are they? What are their main assets?

A shadow is hiding in the curve of a dark corridor. It is late: only the noise of fingers tapping on a keyboard and a dim light from a cell-phone suggest that someone is here. He or she is building up his/her network: here is one of the few Digital superheroes! Who are these people? Where are they hiding? What and who are they fighting against?

Accenture started first by bringing together 16 Executive Committee members, wearing colourful Digital superhero masks, over a serious game. As an example, Christian Nibourel, Country Managing Director, has become "El Presidente", in charge of one of the universes in the Performance Island, a must-visit place for all staff to discover new digital uses.

An experience that showed greatness as it boosted a network involving 70% of Group staff and proved how important it is to embody these values. Whether this responsibility is carried on by employees or top management, it must be supported, promoted and defended. Chief Digital Officers or Chief Transformation Officers now have no choice but to find the right suit and cause to fight for!

But they are not the only ones who can actually wear the mask. Social network superheroes are everywhere. Like X-Men, they come from all company backgrounds. The transformation has only just started. And just like Professor Xavier, the ability to build up a network, recruit and gather new talent within teams free from endless internal validation processes is probably crucial to making it happen.
"Social network superheroes are everywhere. Like X-Men, they come from all company backgrounds."

Fighting against digital illiteracy

Neelie Kroes – the European commissioner in charge of the digital society between February 2010 and November 2014, stated during the "Get On Line" week that "the absence of digital skills is a new type of illiteracy". Social networks and their superheroes actually tend to cross professional uses with digital and corporate culture. For 300 companies, such as Telenor, Weber & Shandwick, already using the professional version of Facebook "Facebook at Work", online networks are a way to cure digital illiteracy. 60,000 companies are already on the waiting list. Another superhero, Sean Ryan, Vice President of Platform Partnerships at Facebook, commented: "Facebook at Work is a simple way for people to connect, share ideas and organise events, (...) bring staff closer together and allow them to collaborate on projects much more effectively." This is only one example. Today, many solutions are flourishing on the market, and the trend is not ready to slow down.

Where are they?

Networks are not just made of superheroes as supporting roles are equally present, just like Robi for Batman or Patrick Star for SpongeBob. They make the network more fluid. They can be experts, influential leaders, digital natives, community managers, superheroes to be... They are the network. They help reduce the number of intermediaries, break silos and simplify company processes. Even better: they are within your company but outside as well and liaise together. A true transformation is happening! Actually such an ability to transform not only applies to individuals but to firms as well. This is reflected quite clearly in Kodak's story, or more recently the uberisation phenomenon: what matters is not the transformation process itself but how fast and adequately it is being applied. Crucial facilitators, networks and communities are everywhere, especially where they are not expected to be, and are incubators for superheroes. A physical version of these online networks is also available: Digital Labs are another pragmatic way to focus on the client. They feature innovation and business catalysts mixing agile methodology and a start-up culture. The lab is an amazing testing and acceleration platform to question a business model, internal processes and user experience.
"Network champions stand out by their ability to give to others. That gift, a definite added-value, can be translated as expertise, ideas,ontributions, emotion even."
 

"Give" as a super power

Whether in the physical or digital version of networks, superheroes convey their own definition of user experience. To them, the word "interaction" mostly means an urgency to create a win-win relationship (or 'give to get'), a concept very dear to millennials. They have known for a long time that this is the best way to communicate to over-burdened staff or clients who might show no interest or who have seen it all already. Network champions stand out by their ability to give to others. That gift, a definite added-value, can be translated as expertise, ideas, contributions, emotion even. The 'Civic 50' report published by Bloomberg points out how important that philosophy is to company networks. "We are encouraged by the results of The Civic 50 survey, which show that increasingly community engagement is recognized as being core to business success" said Neil Bush, chair of the Points of Light Board of Directors.
"(...) it is crucial to focus on the true added-value for our network and the way we communicate it."
Head of Digital Marketing & Communication CIB at BNP Paribas
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