Should a Corporate Social Business Strategy be Preceded by a Cultural Audit?


Share on LinkedIn

Conversations about social media in business often start with questions about tools. “Should we have a Facebook page?” “Should we be on Twitter?” “Should we have a blog and if so how do we go about that?”

These are perfectly reasonable questions. But they jump the gun.

Before any decisions are made about social media platforms or tools, there needs to be a serious discussion about company objectives and social business strategy.

And about company culture.

Because a social business strategy that doesn’t fit with company culture is bound to fail.

Sometimes (usually?) it will become evident that there needs to be cultural change if the social business strategy is to have a chance of success. The principle of getting a good fit beween the strategy and the corporate culture still applies – it’s just that the process becomes a bit more complex and dynamic.

It is clear to me, from case studies I’ve read and listened to and from anecdotes shared by fellow social business practitioners, that the toughest challenge with social business or social media implementation may not about platforms or tools or even, in many cases, about budgets, but about culture.

To take just one cultural factor, attitude to risk, the kind of social business strategy and the speed at which it is developed and implemented will be affected by whether the culture of a company is more risk tolerant or more risk averse.

I believe there is a case to be made for conducting a cultural audit or scan of a company before getting into a discussion about social business strategy.

Cynics might see that as just another way for consultants and coaches to make money without delivering any extra value.

But a cultural audit or scan does not have to be lengthy or complex. In some circumstances it might just mean a day of interviews with people from across the enterprise: not just with senior management, who we all know often have either too rosy a picture of how the world looks from the shop floor, or too jaundiced a one.

And let’s all spare ourselves lengthy (and costly) reports from exercises like this.

One page of bullet points should do the trick.

My hunch is that, if the audit or scan is done in a focused and relatively speedy way, the development and implementation of the social business or social media strategy will deliver better value for money – and maybe even faster and more enduringly than would otherwise have been the case.

Do you know of any company where an audit or scan such as this has been done as a step before developing a social media or social business strategy? Does it look to you like a good idea?

Image credit:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Des Walsh
Des Walsh is an executive leadership coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn expert. He is passionate about sharing his understanding of the benefits of social media in a way that makes good sense for business.


  1. Great article Des:
    • All companies have an organisational culture – good or bad;
    • The good ones enable new strategies (read your “adopting more social behaviours”); the bad ones repel any attempts at change (read your “adopting more social behaviours”);
    • The CEO’s ‘take’ on what the prevailing corporate-cultural climate of her organisation is, and what the real culture IS, are almost proverbially not matched up. I call it ‘shiny brass plaque syndrome’;
    • A set of questions such as those on my website Take the Corporate Culture Health Check at is useful to the CEO, but only to sensitise them to the issues. Courageous CEOs give the test to their most ardent critics from the shop floor. However, the courageous CEOs who would do that usually don’t have a toxic or incoherent culture. That’s the conundrum;
    • A skilful independent or neutral third party is best placed to uncover the real culture by working with good tools at the staff team level; and finally to the pivotal issue
    • For at least five decades, the corporate world has been sold on strategy, strategy, strategy! Wrong, wrong, wrong! Strategy is important but only fully effective when scaffolded on a solid platform of reliable, known organisational cultural values and their generated beliefs. So the comment, ‘any effort to embrace social media should include an initial culture audit’ attributed to your Des, gets ‘culture’. It’s what one does with the results of the audit that requires wise discernment. If the culture is antithetical to change then the CEO needs good strategy to unfold a more enabling culture. That’s the tricky bit and there are no quick, cheap fixes. Trust is at the heart of change. The question then becomes ‘How do I build trust?’. This is where I spend most of my time within organisations – building a high-trust workplace culture.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here