Social business means thinking internally first
Too many think that social media is all about friends, fans and followers. There is certainly some validity to this thinking because our minds have been trained to focus on outcomes. If done right, the output of smart social media initiatives like general community engagement, customer advocacy, social media content and B2B influencer marketing, a Facebook sponsored story or a Promoted Tweet will be an increase in community growth. Yes, that’s a good thing, but there is so much more to it.
The problem arises when those who are in charge of social media don’t think about the possible implications that the bright and shiny object called social media can cause. Issues usually include disjointed content, scaling programs globally and confusion of roles & responsibilities, to name a few. This is no hype and not a scare tactic. These are real issues that plague business today.
Social business can be compared to building a house. Start with the infrastructure or the blueprint and get that in order first. The last thing you want to do is hang dry wall AFTER it is painted, right? When preparing for external B2B content strategy and execution, it’s important to first think internally and focus on three areas – Scale, Silos and Structure.
Scaling social media (whether globally or just a new network) is usually an afterthought. Too many marketers see that “bright and shiny object” of that new network, overly anxious to create a new regional Facebook page, Twitter account or they simply just want to jump on the bandwagon and create a Google+ page because everyone else has one. What they usually forget about are the fundamentals:
Content – I see this all the time, brands re-purposing Google+ content from Facebook or Twitter or re-posting US content into other regional social channels. This isn’t smart. Every community needs a unique story. One that is relevant and culturally applicable which has to be driven by a local resource that understands the nuances of that region. If content is a challenge for the US market, then it’s probably a challenge across the board. So until that problem is solved, don’t scale.
Community Management – Before expanding into ANY social network, there needs to be a community manager responsible for that community. Again, a local resource that understands the community culture.
Governance – This piece is easier said than done. However, it’s imperative to ensure there are social media polices, guidelines, crisis communication and customer support escalation models in place prior to launching.
A buzzword we have been hearing all over the intrawebs a lot lately, but yes, organizational silos exist and still plague business today. Truth is, they will always exist, since new management and leadership will cycle in and out of the organization. However, it’s important that social media leaders attempt to build bridges with IT, customer support; and other marketing and regional teams. This means that marketing people should NOT be making IT decisions without consulting with IT. Ensuring proper alignment internally will result in better marketing and more meaningful customer relationships. It’s true. And getting everyone involved is good business practice. It improves morale.
Establishing roles & responsibilities early on will save a lot of heartache in the future. There is a land grab for social media. Everyone wants to own it. It’s sexy and all over the news. Employees are mad, quitting because they are unsure of what they are responsible for or what they are being measured by. It’s imperative to structure your team so everyone knows exactly what they will be doing. Some roles may include:
Content & community management
Integration w/paid media, PR, campaigns
Liaison w/customer support
Collaboration with global teams
Measurement, training, governance
So there it is – Scale, Silos and Structure. Not very sexy but definitely more important than an ad buy on Facebook or a promoted Tweet. This is certainly not easy and many companies are forming teams to start thinking about these issues. It’s good practice to formalize this team and establish a social business center of excellence to tackle this head on. It’s an investment with huge dividends.
This post was first written on July 23, 2012.