It's 2011 and as you gear up for planning initiatives for the new year, it's the best time ever to take a step back and think about what needs to be done before you take action. But before even doing that, you may want to think about how you've approached initiatives in the past. Here's a simple framework to consider:
Implementation & Execution
If you've launched anything—whether it be a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube, or an internal communication/collaboration platform then you are to be congratulated because you have executed. However, many organizations who have jumped into the social waters now find themselves dealing with new challenges. Large organizations who operate globally may have scores of digital embassies which do not coordinate or exist within any defined architecture. Departments may have launched pilots as rogue efforts which initially were successful but are difficult to scale. Marketing, customer service, HR, IT, and a host of other operational groups may be in turf wars over who runs what. Your business partners may be engaging in their own turf wars. In short, getting something executed and maintaining it is a great place to be in, but it also creates new challenges which require formalization as the space matures.
Digital & Social Channel Strategy
Above any execution should sit a sound strategy. As touchpoints in the digital world become seemingly infinite and the need for integration becomes more important, organizations are often forced into taking a strategic approach at the "channel" level. This means taking a look across the enterprise at all social initiatives and how they should work. What should a company's Facebook presence be leveraged for primarily: Marketing? Sales? Customer Service? How do the social touch points integrate with other off domain and on domain properties? What type of content is generated? How does this integrate? How should any digital embassy represent the brand? These are all strategic efforts which help inform and direct tactical execution and implementation.
Social Business Planning
In my opinion, this is where you may want to consider starting if you are really serious about scaling and integrating across a large enterprise. Social business planning is the infrastructure that comes before you even begin to work through your strategies that drive your execution. It impacts three core areas which you can think of as the "3P's" if it helps:
Hiring, re-org, training, corporate culture, writing new job descriptions, policy or in short anything that involves the human capital which is needed to power social initiatives. Specifically, how they need to function or work with partners in order for the business to ensure that social initiatives will be more genuine, valuable (to all of your stakeholders) and integrated.
The rise of social media and your organization's response means tweaking, re-inventing or coming up with new processes for doing things. From updating engagement guidelines to workflow models to integrating process between existing business units and re-calibrating them for social media. Process acts as a road map for any organization looking to operationalize and act at scale.
From social platforms which your external stakeholders use to the internal platforms which your employees leverage—your technical infrastructure must be planned for growth and scalability. This requires a complete assessment of what's available now, what's coming in the future and what types of platforms can be used to manage others (social CMS) for example.
For a real world example of how all three come together, consider Dell's social media command center. People are required to run the center, a process is needed for how the people share and communicate the data/information and platforms are used to extract the social data (then back to people to make meaning from it). This all had to be planned in advance for it to operate. The bottom line is that all three steams are essential for best results. It's likely that you've already begun one or two, but this is the best time of year to consider how all three can work together. If the decision were mine—I'd say start with social business planning and get the right infrastructure in place but don't stop there, be flexible enough to tweak your social business plan as your integration matures.