Spreading the Social Wealth - Scaling Social Media across the Company

In time to escape the Austin heat wave, I recently spent a few days in Miami to soak up strategic social knowledge at the Social Media Strategies Summit.

Everyone from the NCAA's Ronnie Ramos to Citi"™s Frank Elisaon gathered to talk about social business topics from increasing engagement to providing better social customer care and optimizing social content.

The question that continued to arise in conversation was: how can you truly expand social for your business? Particularly, how to leverage the millions of people active in social across the multiple channels they use to create meaningful conversations for your brand?

The answer, in a word, is scale. And, distilled down, it requires 3 main components.

1. Getting the right people involved.

There are millions of consumers active on social channels. But one of the keys to corporate social success is unlocking the people within your organization. That means thinking beyond just Marketing and assessing other areas within your business that should provide resources, help and a communication avenue for customers.

Brands like AARP and Whole Foods are tackling this head-on by enabling more people across their brands to engage in social engagement. They've realized that their brands may be national, but their supporters and customers are local. By scaling the people who are sharing news, engaging in conversations and answering questions, they can better serve their audience. For them, that means allowing tens if not hundreds of employees to speak on their brands' behalf.


2. Planning the right places to get involved.

Multi-channel marketing isn't a new concept, but it's been elevated to a new level with more platforms within the social sphere. Companies don't have the luxury of engaging on just one social channel. They must create programs that leverage all of them important to customers.

Social adoption has nearly doubled across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube over the past 3 (source: MarketingProfs). Paired with the fact that the #1 priority for companies in 2012 is "increasing presence across social media platforms," the time is now for companies to decide how to create the right places for engagement. While this might mean a handful of corporate accounts on Facebook, SlideShare, Twitter and blogs to start, increasingly, companies like Nokia and Aramark are finding organizing presences how their customers use social is optimal.

Aramark has hundreds of social accounts to provide menus and on-campus dining updates to their hyper-social, college base to update them on options to eat locally. They've realized students in Boston don't care what's on the menu at a college campus in Illinois or South Dakota. It's a simple revelation, but has allowed their team to create local social presences to better serve their customers and build their business in the process.


3. Guiding the ability to have more conversations.

But finding a way to efficiently monitor daily conversations, assess which interactions require response and creating process around how to handle these is no small job. Coordination is the solution to the chaos of social conversations for businesses, and it means creating internal processes and capabilities to better engage in more conversations.

Finding what your social customers want and expect from social conversations is the primary starting point. For Intuit, that meant asking customers what's really important to them (acknowledgement and solving problems). For CNN, it's meant segmenting social channels by program and on-air personalities so viewers can engage with the programs, people and issues in which they are most interested. Viewers of CNN may care more international issues from Christiane Amanpour than election coverage in The Situation Room. Organizing social this way has allowed CNN to engage in more, relevant conversations.

There's no doubt more people, more places and more conversations is a trend we'll see beyond 2012.  Assessing how you map these to your brand and leverage employees, platforms and organic engagement is the starting point for social success.

For more examples and ideas on how you might start thinking about these 3 core areas, check out the slides from my SMSS session.

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