Strategic Social Media Means Thinking Internally First

This guest post was written by Michael Brito, Senior Vice President of Social Business Planning at Edelman Digital where he provides social media strategic counseling, guidance, and best practice recommendations to Edelman"™s top global technology accounts relative to organizational design, employee empowerment and engagement, governance, and training and education. You can connect with Michael on Twitter at @britopian.

 

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, advocacy/influencer management, a Facebook sponsored story or a Promoted Tweet will be an increase in community growth. Yes, that"™s a good thing but there is more to it.

The problem arises when those who are in charge of social media don"™t think about the possible implications that that bright and shiny object called social media can cause. Issues usually include something like 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.

When thinking about social media for external reasons, it"™s important to first think internally and focus on three areas "“ Scale, Silos and Structure.

SCALE

Scaling social media initiatives is usually an after thought. Too many marketers are quick on the draw and 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 repurposing Google+ content from Facebook or Twitter.  And I have direct experience working for a company that reposted regional content directly from US social channels?  In both cases, it"™s not very smart.  Every community needs unique content, a different story, and relevant, cultural content driven by a local resource. In other words, it not smart for someone in the US to manage a community in Germany.

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. Need I elaborate any further on this one?

Governance - The last piece is even easier. Ensuring there are social media polices, guidelines, crisis communication and customer support escalation models in place prior to launching.

SILOS

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. 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.

STRUCTURE

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 because it"™s the next new thing.  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.