How to Succeed with Social Media Software

Imagine you’ve just inked the deal on your business social software needs. You’re likely in that tipping point frame of mind, feeling an equal level of relief and sheer excitement.

But what happens now? At Spredfast, we see this scenario play out across the region as we work with a diverse set of companies. This puts us in a position to see some common themes. Let’s take a look at some steps, key questions to consider in order to achieve successful social software implementation.

Step 1. Understand & Communicate your Social Why

What questions to ask yourself

  • What’s your social why? (social mission statement)? Is it clearly articulated?
  • Why are you undertaking this initiative and what do you expect to achieve from this?

Both of these are important strategic questions. I’d suspect the answers were defined well in advance of a decision to buy software, but it’s worth revisiting them to reflect any market and business impacting your overall social strategy.

Why does a social why matter?

Like any mission, vision or brand promise, your social why needs to be clearly articulated and communicated throughout the business, top to bottom—and include your vendor partner here, too. Ensuring that everyone who touches this new initiative and technology understands how it will get them closer to their why will help to provide focus on the end game, boost buy-in and act as an overall guiding principle when the natural evolution as a social business develops.

Step 2. Map a role for social in the broader business

Questions to ask yourself

  • What does our overall technology stack look like? Where does social fit and are our products complementary and connected?
  • Why does it matter?

Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron recently told The Huffington Post, “If last year was all about big data, then this year will be all about creating real change with that connected data.” Social media’s speed, scale and ability to facilitate 1-to-1 customer interactions with businesses make it a scary proposition for some and a virtual well of unique opportunities for others. This unique customer understanding can be utilised for business-level decisions around product or service. Or, it can be connected with other data to allow teams to make smarter, more relevant and targeted marketing decisions—instantly.

Now more than ever social is a key part of the overall marketing ecosystem. For many businesses, social now plays a key role in driving leads or traffic to web. When we understand that connectedness—for example, through link-tagging—it helps tell a more complete social ROI story, therefore delivering greater value from software investment. At Spredfast, we have an open platform ethos and encourage the programmatic use of social data to create connected data.

Step 3. Align Goals and Structure to your strategy

Questions to ask yourself

  • What are the economic buyer’s goals? Are they clear and do they align with the needs of the end users?
  • Do you have a structure that is best placed to deliver maximum return on your investment?
  • Have you considered the various models, e.g. hub-and-spoke, centralised or decentralized or a hybrid?
  • What are the time-zone, language and cultural considerations? How does legal or compliance play a role?.[6]
  • With the above in mind, do you have a clear set of brand and operational guidelines ready?

Why aligning goals to strategy matters

Almost every business we deal with has a goal-setting technique like OKRs to move people together in the right direction. A risk arises when the economic buyer either has different goals or hasn’t clearly communicated and aligned with the end users on the software. As is often the case with situations like RFPs, the economic buyer and team of end users are not the same people. A clear remit from the top down and with careful consideration of the key use cases will drive adoption and understanding of the benefits available.

Does structure guide your strategy or vice versa? Regardless of your philosophy, structure matters here. For many global business there are typical challenges structuring across regions, within business units and for cross-functional teams. There isn’t a right or wrong answer here—just the one that best aligns your resources and structure to your software solutions, meeting both your specific business needs now and allowing for flexibility as you inevitably evolve. Social software is a powerful tool to drive efficiency and effectiveness but it requires the right people in the right places, with the right knowledge to truly maximise your investment.

Step 4. Educate and manage performance to drive long-term value

Key questions to ask yourself

  • Do you and the vendor have a roll-out plan to ensure specific training and enablement for the organisation. How are you measuring success early on?
  • Has an organizational structure been identified and aligned with the vendor? What key people are in place to lead performance management?
  • How will you measure success over the contract period? What does the evaluation process entail and with whom?
  • How will you and the vendor manage continued education around the product suite?

Why education to drive long-term performance matters

Let’s be honest: For most organisations, changing entrenched habits and workflows to drive adoption and continued usage of new software can be a challenge. A key way to ensure rapid and continued adoption is through job descriptions and KPIs. Specify the role the technology has in an individual’s job by outlining specific KPIs related to the product, such as output or effectiveness metrics. Without mandating—an equally good tactic—you are making it clear that the investment is deemed valuable to the organization and the user.

Social is the fastest-moving market we’ve ever seen and as such, enabling teams to stay connected with rapid change is critical. A successful tactic we see is to create champions across the business who are empowered and rewarded to stay close to us vendors, ensuring they are the go-to experts in the business. Our role is to share relevant market, product and thought leadership pieces, enabling these Champions to distribute and educate co-workers and the business more broadly. To deliver on this, hold regular sessions with the vendor team.

Where commercial arrangements exist, so does management oversight. Ensuring the executive connection between both parties covers the macro and strategic aspects to relationship will greatly help with ensuring the longer-term needs are met.

Beyond the product, lean in and leverage your vendor partner's skills and expertise, an old cliche rings true here, and that is “your success is our success.” Over time, the more we can understand your business and become a strategic partner, the more value we can add in helping you achieve social business goals.

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Adrian Mottershead is the Director of Customer Partnerships in Sydney, Australia. His role takes him around the region working the business's biggest strategic partners to ensure they leverage social technology to drive their business objectives.