Over a year ago, I put a presentation out in public titled "Social Media Is Dead. Long Live Common Sense". Admittedly, it was a little ahead of it's time. Most companies back then were not ready to think about social media outside of anything that looked like viral marketing at most and at the least, a place to monitor conversations. Today is different—many organizations find themselves in either the "crawling" or "walking" phase of social business integration and desire to rapidly move toward running and flying even if they are nowhere close to it.
In short, organizations are beginning to realize that "social" needs to be integrated into how they do business and because of it's disruptive nature and the fact that "social" refuses to be silo-ed in a single department. The future of all things "social" is integration—this is inevitable. But in the present, the here and now—many companies are struggling to scale their social experimentation into something that they can point to as a success. This piece is meant to illustrate the way to do this which takes into account the three parallel paths needed to work in tandem to accomplish this:
Social Business Planning & Integration
For organizations who have set up a steering committee and a center of excellence, a social business plan which is coordinated from the center, charts the roadmap for the organization across multiple brands and/or business functions. Social business planning is the holistic view and sets the agenda, outlines what infrastructure is needed and shares knowledge and best practices across the company. Without a social business plan in place which manifests itself as a roadmap—efforts end up as one off or ad hoc initiatives without orchestration.
Social Business Strategy
Strategic initiatives are formed at the brand or business function and are channel related but also somewhat channel agnostic. For example, a brand may look at how it approaches content or customer service or engagement with customers and determine what strategy they should pursue to evolve these functions into something that aligns with the way customers or other stakeholders expect to interact with the brand. Instead of a "Twitter strategy", or "Facebook strategy" for example, brands must look at strategies against things like crisis, communications, marketing, customer service, product development, and form strategies for how they make these activities more connected.
Once an organization determines what strategies it should pursue against a business function which can integrate social into it, manageable pilots should should be identified to pursue to the point of implementation. Pilots generate data and insights which then need to be analyzed and fed back into the social business plan and roadmap. This is where the system becomes a giant feedback loop for the organization—instead of being a top down approach, initiating a comprehensive plan puts a foundation in place and pilots serve as small validation or invalidation points which help inform the broader direction. A pilot can be a promotion, blog, a Facebook page, Twitter account, social intranet or the types of interactions, content and community management applied to them. What's critical is that they are doable and result in a tangible "thing" where outcomes can be measured.
Most organizations who were the pioneers tapping social media for business launched pilots as the first salvos before engaging in broader initiatives (think Dell's Idea Storm or GM's Fast Lane blog). Today, pilot programs must feed back into a broader social business plan and the organizations who become the first to integrate or "fly" as a social business will manage efforts in these streams simultaneously. What's your social business plan? Do you have one?