Monday, May 25, 2009

Social Web Strategy: Start by Looking Inside!

One of the immediate consequences of putting a “social web and media” strategy into practice, and often overlooked, is the opportunity to improve internal communications between team leaders and staff across the organization. With all of the corporate downsizing, the need for faster, and more efficient means of sharing information, and content between departments is crucial. Everyone needs connectivity to everyone else.
The tendency to latch on to social media as a quick fix for marketing will prove to be frustrating, and short-lived without attending to strengthening internal communications.

Companies as a whole –beyond marketing– must prepare themselves for open engagement with customers, suppliers, and new prospects. Without sufficient preparation, senior leaders are likely to feel "invaded upon" and lack of preparation will be painful. I think it best to initially focus on establishing the right "mindset" among management and associated staff. This is a strategic task when properly executed, will enable all involved to be tolerant of tactical tasks which often face timeline hurdles from lack of bandwidth, and implementative challenges.
Recognizing that social technologies will become is an excerpt from noted
social media advisor for Forrester, Jeremiah Owyang...
Social technologies are creeping into nearly every aspect of business, making this incredibly difficult for brands to manage as so many systems –and therefore stakeholders– are looped in willing or not. Having spoken to some brands that are tackling this change, here’s some practical advice that I learned the top firms are doing:

1) Recognize the trend that social technologies are crossing over to all aspects of the business: If you’re responsible for social media leadership in your company, recognize that this technology is pervasive beyond corp comm and marketing as we saw in the last few years.

2) Yet, as things start to get complicated, simplify: Rather than focus on the all of the distinct arenas that social crosses, focus on the trend that customers and their opinions will be part of nearly every aspect of your business –even if you don’t choose for them to be present.

3) Start the culture change now with internal education: The internal culture change is the biggest hurdle for companies. I spoke to a traditional media company yesterday that is quickly migrating away from print to online, and is conducting internal ’show and tell brown bag sessions’ across the enterprises where people can come from any department.

4) Rather than build a strategy focused on technologies, build around customers and employees: Above all, don’t focus on the technologies themselves, start to train yourself to start and end a discussion with customers (and/or employees) rather than “Twitter”.

5) Organize your company for social: There’s an innovation curve here that your company must jump, but to be successful, you’ll need to change not technology (only 20%) but culture, strategy, process, roles, and how you measure (the other 80%).


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