Get on the Bus: Tips for Operationalizing Social Media Across the Enterprise

Recently, I took one of Austin’s cool new rapid buses and I found myself wondering: “How do all the buses get where they’re going, pretty much on time, all over town?” In a growing city like ours, the transportation system has to keep up—it’s an amazing feat of scaling and orchestration.

In a simplified way, the same questions could be asked about scaling a social program across a national or even global organization. How do you get everybody on the right bus, with the right messages, at the right time, all over the enterprise? Here are a few best practices we’ve learned.

1) Create a map.

In other words, you need a global content strategy that outlines where you’re going in social, what your overall themes will be for the year, how you will measure results, and especially WHY you are doing this. Share this strategy with your distributed teams, so everybody’s on the same page.

2) Hire the right drivers.

Each member of your social team is driving his or her own bus. That means it’s important to hire social practitioners who know the landscape—who get social culture, as well as the local market, language, and lifestyle. Brian Stokoe, Social Media Specialist at Caterpillar, agrees: “Ultimately, we have people all over the world that have to fit the culture and have to understand how we interact in social.” 

3) Commit to drivers’ ed.

You want to make sure that all social contributors have what it takes to succeed, in every location. However, your global social team at HQ probably can’t double as social trainers— they’re likely too busy executing and planning at the highest levels. This is where it pays to invest in a consistent, constantly updated social training program.

Post by AARP.

For example, AARP has distributed social responsibilities across offices in each state and territory, with a small global team to handle overall initiatives. Alejandra Owens, AARP’s Senior Advisor of Social Communications, shared how her team empowered each practitioner while rolling out social training:

●They started with clear social guidelines:  “We put bumper lanes on to help people feel safe as they started adopting social.”

●Next, they hired a full-time social media trainer with on-demand online training.

●In the future, AARP plans to implement more formalized social training modules like Spredfast Certification.

Amelia Lerutte, Social Media Specialist at Arbonne International, also has a strong belief in what she calls “training wheels.” Arbonne is a multi-level marketing organization made up of thousands of independent business owners across five different countries. A university-style social training course enables what Lerutte calls a “multiple singers, one voice” approach—“We all localize globally in our own ways but in the end, we are all singing the same brand.”


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4) Build in approval routes and traffic lights.

When you have multiple social teams in different offices, appointing decision-makers can help ensure smooth orchestration. Identify a point person for each team who can say “yes” or “no” to all social initiatives and be the content gatekeeper. And make sure everybody knows who that point person is.

Brian Stokoe oversees social for both the global Caterpillar brand and a network of roughly 180 dealers worldwide. He says that it’s important to give local decision makers the authority to direct their social teams within the overall content strategy—“so you don’t have to hover over them.”

5) Keep the wheels turning.

Solid coordination and communications are what keep a large social infrastructure humming along. That’s what Spredfast is all about. Especially with the enhanced calendars and the Content Center, our social marketing platform makes it easy for team members to collaborate and share relevant content, anywhere in the world.

All aboard!

A well-orchestrated enterprise social media team doesn’t happen overnight. But by scaling strategically and implementing the right tools and processes, you will find your route to success. 

This post was inspired and informed by the “Think Global, Act Social” panel at the 2014 Spredfast Summit. Want more? Download our Top 10 Big Ideas from Leading Social Marketers.'s picture

Courtney Doman

Courtney is the Content Marketing Manager at Spredfast. She focuses on sharing smart social ideas and insights to transform the way companies connect with consumers. Courtney is a passionate football fan (supporting Arsenal and the USMNT), curious traveller, and ambitious home cook.