6 Steps To Long-Term Social Success

No one asked for change management.

Brands and organizations across all verticals just started using social media as it evolved.

As they continue to scale they are discovering all sorts of changes. The changes that come with getting more people within an organization to use social:

  • to use socially-generated insights to drive strategy and planning
  • to create more productive and enduring relationships with customers in-store via social channels
  • to apply the learnings from their social communities back to production teams
  • to establish a robust social customer care infrastructure or enable a sales force to apply the power of social to their selling efforts.

These are changes that impact many parts of a company’s operations, and should be approached mindfully.

Now that social media is much more established as a communications medium, so there are process and infrastructures to help guide its ongoing scale and adoption across the enterprise.

Plan your approach, don’t just jump in 

As we look ahead both at 2015 and the 12 months beyond that, there is no need to take a running jump in the deep end of the pool with both eyes shut. In learning the mechanics of how to dive instead, and to breathe effectively while underwater, those in the water will be able to swim for the long term – and feel the benefits of it.  

Here are six key factors to consider when looking at learning how best to dive in to the evolution of social media in your organization: 


1. Establish how socially mature you are as an enterprise

You would never embark on any other large-scale change endeavor without an honest assessment of current status. It’s a vitally important step when it comes to further evolution of social media. Forrester’s Maturity Curve remains the bellwether (and is something Forrester is itself evolving) as to social maturity. It shows five common stages of social media adoption across companies ranging from Laggards and Late Majority, through Early Majority, to Early Adopters then Innovators. This assessment scale allows you to plot current position on the bell curve and then build a plan for accelerating social maturity.  


2. Make comparisons to those around you

Enlist the help of your partners to benchmark against your competitors as well as those you aspire to be. Take a healthy interest in those in your sector, but also identify an aspirational target in terms of a company or brand that is often discussed in the hallways, or whose best practices are those you aspire to, longer term.

By understanding as much as you can about both their output and internal configuration – such as staffing models – you can understand where you have to get to, in order to reach similar levels. It is easy to overlook the internal effort required to get to social at scale externally, yet is crucial for honest assessment of goals and priorities.  


3. Take a realistic view on tools and requirements

Having gone through the first two steps, it is important to align what you are trying to do and where you are at, with the tools you need. Oftentimes there are different tools and platforms being used around the organization, selected without any central strategy or being used by external partners on its behalf. Some of these tools may support a future social mission, others may not. 

 A comprehensive audit and mapping process will help you determine this and deal with Bright Shiny Object Syndrome— times when the ‘wow’ eclipses the ‘how’. A blueprint will bring these factors together and can form the basis of your requirements processing and gathering. 


4. Have a long-term vision but plan for the mid-term (12-24 months)

Your social mission should be one that supports the overall company business ambition. It is a wide reaching vision, from which plans and strategies are formed and executed in different departments across the company. It is vitally important to have flexibility to plan for the mid-term underneath this longer-term plan.

The social space is one that is constantly evolving. Programs and plans you have in place will need to be continuously evaluated and behaviors mapped, to ensure the work you are carrying out plays out along with the evolution of the space.


5. Staffing is foundational and fundamental

It used to be that the hand raisers were the ones who were at the foundation of pushing social efforts forward. Today it is more important to go through a realistic talent profiling exercise to make sure you have the people who can help you do the job. 

Who are the people that you need? Who do you already have? What changes do you need to make, honestly, to get the work done you want to do? The right people will ensure the right outcome. Using a well-thought out approach to talent mapping is key to minimizing fall out.


6. Be sure to manage up  

There is still a lot of upwards education required when it comes to ensuring social adoption and change. Do you have the upward visibility and blessing to be the change maker that effectively pushes a program through to completion? Who do you need to affect to really impact change? Do you have any idea as to how to do that?

It is important to have a well-thought out plan of those you need to influence and how you are going to do it, when working through evolving social change. Being able to demonstrate tangible value and return on investment to those in the C-Suite from the get go is key. 

Ready, set, go!

The companies and brands that are assessing how to improve performance of social and marketing programs through building staffing capabilities and molding required internal behavior over time, are those that understand social readiness and are planning ahead for a successful socially-fueled future.

Want to learn more about planning for major social marketing objectives and specific use cases? Download the Social Media Pocket Guide.

Gemma Craven's picture

Gemma Craven

Gemma is the Executive Director of Strategic Markets at Spredfast where she leads Spredfast's North American team of Market Directors - social business practitioners and key partners to Spredfast's clients and prospects. She is also a WOMMA board member, runner, and owner of a Boston Terrier named Stella.