#SocialProcurement: digital mingling and learning

Picture: William Iven (https://unsplash.com/@firmbee

Procurement and Social Media are not two terms easily associated. And looking at fellow Procurement professionals, whilst their profile is up on LinkedIn, they are rather restrained when it comes to blogging, commenting on articles, weighing in discussions, using more interactive channels like Twitter, reaching out to experts and peers through social media, researching new market developments and suppliers or creating a profile on the first social media platform for Procurement professionals. The impression is that social media is still considered somewhat frivolous. And quite possibly, the digital savvy of this function is in need of an upgrade.

So why would you want your Procurement teams to be active on social media? Again, many managers would struggle to recognize a professional use for social media, are not proficient users and have little knowledge of its benefits in that context. However, we believe social media is an excellent tool for professionals to stay on top of trending topics in their world, network and exchange with peers, crowdsource ideas and solutions, discover upcoming new suppliers who don’t have the big marketing dollars but social media savvy, weigh into professional discussions and hopefully tell a powerful story of the great procurement function in your firm. And being present on social media, both in an official company branded capacity and through employee brand ambassadors is a powerful tool to attract a digital native talent pool to the profession and firm.

Looking at the social media landscape, LinkedIn is a good starting point. Most professionals have at least some familiarity with it and it integrates useful features like news and group subscriptions on specific topics, the ability to network or blogging and sharing functionality. How about creating a Linkedin group for alumni and employees which can also serve as an interface for potential recruits? Linkedin recruiter posts can be linked into the group as well.

Just don’t create a “dead” profile which is what happens often. And managers need to genuinely role model and put content out there. Voicing opinions on social media can be seen as risky, so the digital savvy talent may be a lot less active than expected. If you are not bought into this, no point doing it. And a Procurement social media lead or team can be a nice stretch assignment outside the day-to-day work. And maybe this is a rotating assignment with members of different digital skill level to upgrade everyone’s know how? Your Marketing and Communications team should be able to provide resources, tips and guidelines/etiquette to get you started.

Twitter to our minds is an excellent tool to curate news, follow industry leaders, discover new thinking and be active in a very global discussion. Many people initially struggle with the format and to see how it would be useful. Our experience is – very! Especially in emerging areas of Procurement where the more forward thinking (and digitally savvy) professionals are active, Twitter provides a great tool to stay on top of the latest discussion. We will also share some of our recommended content sources in a future post.

Blogs or guest posts on established content hubs are another great way to share success stories, stimulate discussion and find peers with similar problems. Procurious, the first social media network exclusively for Procurement invites guest contributions and is slowly building some good content. Or maybe share your Procurement success story on the excellent “The Art of Procurement” podcast series by LA based Philip Ideson? And lastly, if you overflow with content, create a blog on your company internet site. If Procurement is even on there, what interest is there for someone to visit the page? Maybe a form for suppliers to apply to become your supplier? A few lines about sustainable Procurement? And maybe a mission statement? Surely, there is even more to tell!

There are other platforms and tools out there, we just introduce a few here. If you want to use multiple platforms, use a social media management and scheduling tool. This will enable you to create one post and automatically cross-post on several platforms. Only an active profile is a useful profile and this is an effective way of managing it. Plus you also get an amount of analytics to monitor the success of your social media strategy and gain insights what works, what doesn’t. It also removes the need to constantly be online, as you can schedule posts well in advance.

And lastly, to the naysayers and those dismissing social media as a toy for the kids - this is part of staying on top of current development. And social media has been around for a good while, so it's time to understand it at least (and before criticising it). Digital skills are relevant in any profession and Procurement is no exception. And how could you be credible with stakeholders looking to drive digital innovation or have effective conversations with suppliers if you are not aware of what is going on in the current market? And yes, the development is faster and there is more information out there than that Procurement text book or industry publication can offer. And the latter, at least if they want to remain relevant will need to have an online content strategy and use social media to distribute that content.

We would love to hear your thoughts and have great passion to make Procurement people a very digitally and social media savvy bunch who network, learn and share quite naturally. We will share more thoughts on the topic, introduce some recommended content sources and also talk about using video and digital collaboration tools to engage and develop talent and create effective collaboration across borders.

Finally, listen in to Art of Procurement's podcast episode interviewing the founder of the Procurious social network: How Procurement Leaders can use Social Media to their Advantage with Tanya Seary

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