Two industry articles recently surfaced which caught my attention. The first on Media Post indicated that more than half of the companies polled for the article go at social media initiatives without a strategy. The second, from eMarketer included some statistics behind common social initiatives but indicated that there was a gap between tactical implementation such as reserving URLs and properties which most organizations were already doing, to planning for relevant protocols which many had not. Both pieces left me wondering—are organizations really preparing themselves for a day where engaging in public will become more mainstream, ubiquitous and even expected? In other words, will the organization truly be “social” when they need it most? To help answer this question, I’m going to list a few core “plays” that your organization should be incorporating into their gameplan if they truly want to move toward making their business more “social”.
Play 1: Active Listening & Analysis
It’s often repeated, but common sense dictates that this is where you begin. Your organization should be aware of what’s being said about it and where it’s being said. There are a variety of social media monitoring tools which make listening possible ranging from the free to the more expensive. Other articles exist to point you to those tools—this one is designed to stress that it needs to be in your gameplan and more importantly integrated into your business model. For example, The Gatorade brand took listening and analysis so seriously that they actually had a physical “social media command center” built into their Chicago headquarters. But whether your listening is digital, physical or a combination of the two, what’s most important are the insights you derive from doing it.
Play 2: Influencer Mapping & Network Dynamics
Call them influencers, mavens or connectors—these individuals exist in both an organization’s internal and external networks which are relevant to your organization and it’s your job to find out who they are and what motivates them. But it’s not just the influencers that matter, it’s the overall way the networked ecosystem works and how it responds to things such as perceived threats or hot conversational topics. Before your organization enters any social ecosystem, it should have spent some time studying the network dynamics around it. Services such as Networked Insights, Skyttle, and others like them exist to provide select intelligence which can arm an organization with the knowledge it needs before ever stepping foot into a community.
Play 3: Technology Assessment, Integration & Adoption
Technology is key in developing a social readiness gameplan because it’s what accelerates anything from collaboration to communication. Internally, the right technology may not be in place in order for your organization to move as quickly, intelligently or as socially as you would like. This is where solutions such as Jive and others come into play. Externally, the plumbing is complex but also open in many cases (API’s). In both cases there needs to be an assessment of what can or can’t be done. How it integrates with what’s already in place and who is likely to use it. For external integration examples, think Facebook connect—for internal, think of your legacy intranet and what might replace it. In both cases, perform audits to determine what technology will best serve your purpose, goals and business culture.
Play 4: Organizational Planning (People & Process)
Technology alone never solved anything—it is the human capitol part of the equation that completes the picture. Change requires existing processes to be re-designed. Rules of engagement should be put in place that act as guidelines for how to engage for the mutual gain of the organization and it’s stakeholders. Training should be implemented. Policies need updating and every business unit within the organization that plays a role in the gameplan should know the rules even when they change.
Play 5: Strategy
No game plan is a plan without a strategy in place which outlines what needs to be done before you actually do it. What’s most important is that you think before you act. What’s the competition doing? Who is succeeding? Who is failing? What does success and failure actually look like for your initiative—and HOW will both be measured? These questions should and can be answered before any substantial initiative begins and that in a nutshell is what strategy is.
Play 6: Pilots, Programs & Transformation
If strategy is the plan inside the gameplan, then consider pilots (small, bite sized initiatives) the scrimmage. Pilot initiatives allow you to test theories on the field taking calculated risks. They should be small by design. Successful pilot initiatives often inform and sometimes evolve into more ambitious undertakings. A pilot could be platform specific, such as testing a collaboration tool with a department vs. the entire organization. Or externally, establishing an embassy on Slideshare vs. ramping up dramatically on Facebook. Pilot projects when done with success and shared around the broader organization can occasionally lead to a larger business transformation.
Play 7: Measurement, Metrics & Success
Every organization will determine and measure success differently. For some it may be sales. For others it’s adoption of a platform. For some it’s measuring the levels of participation or specific actions such as a sign up, donation, or even saying a positive word in a public space (sentiment). Whether it’s increasing visibility, driving sales, or generating a cost savings, your game plan should include what you intend to measure and how you will measure it.
Consider the above a high level checklist for your organization in the quest to evolve it into a more connected brand and ultimately a social business. Perhaps you are doing many of the things listed in here. Perhaps you are just starting. What’s most important is that you have a game plan in place which is strategic enough to get you started and adaptable enough to change as fast as conditions in the game do—because change as we all know, happens.