Social Business Means Thinking Internally First

Social Business Means Thinking Internally First

Too many think that social media is all about friends, fans and followers.  There is certainly some validity to this thinking because our minds have been trained to focus on outcomes. If done right, the output of smart social media initiatives like general community engagement, advocacy/influencer management, a Facebook sponsored story or a Promoted Tweet will be an increase in community growth. Yes, that’s a good thing but there is so much more to it.

The problem arises when those who are in charge of social media don’t think about the possible implications that that bright and shiny object called social media can cause. Issues usually include disjointed content, scaling programs globally and confusion of roles & responsibilities to name a few. This is no hype and not a scare tactic. These are real issues that plague business today.

Social business can be compared to building a house. Start with the infrastructure or the blue print and get that in order first.  The last thing you want to do is hang dry wall AFTER it is painted, right?

When preparing for external social media marketing initiatives, it’s important to first think internally and focus on three areas – Scale, Silos and Structure.

SCALE

Scaling social media (whether globally or just a new network) is usually an after thought. Too many marketers see that “bright and shiny object” of that new network, overly anxious to create a new regional Facebook page, Twitter account or they simply just want to jump on the bandwagon and create a Google+ page because everyone else has one. What they usually forget about are the fundamentals:

Content I see this all the time, brands re-purposing Google+ content from Facebook or Twitter or re-posting US content into other regional social channels. This isn’t smart. Every community needs a unique story. One that is relevant and culturally applicable which has to be driven by a local resource that understands the nuances of that region. If content is a challenge for the US market, then it’s probably a challenge across the board. So until that problem is solved, don’t scale.

Community Management – Before expanding into ANY social network, there needs to be a community manager responsible for that community. Again, a local resource that understands the community culture.

Governance – This piece is easier said than done, however, it’s imperative to ensure there are social media polices, guidelines, crisis communication and customer support escalation models in place prior to launching.

SILOS

A buzzword we have been hearing all over the intrawebs a lot lately, but yes, organizational silos exist and still plague business today. Truth is, they will always exist, since new management and leadership will cycle in and out of the organization. However, it’s important that social media leaders attempt to build bridges with IT, customer support; and other marketing and regional teams. This means that marketing people should NOT be making IT decisions without consulting with IT.  Ensuring proper alignment internally will result in better marketing and more meaningful customer relationships. It’s true. And getting everyone involved is good business practice. It improves morale.

STRUCTURE

Establishing roles & responsibilities early on will save a lot of heartache in the future. There is a land grab for social media. Everyone wants to own it. It’s sexy and all over the news. Employees are mad, quitting because they are unsure of what they are responsible for or what they are being measured by. It’s imperative to structure your team so everyone knows exactly what they will be doing. Some roles may include:

  • Content & community management
  • Integration w/paid media, PR, campaigns
  • Liaison w/customer support
  • Collaboration with global teams
  • Measurement, training, governance

So there it is – Scale, Silos and Structure. Not very sexy but definitely more important than an ad buy on Facebook or a promoted Tweet.  This is certainly not easy and many companies are forming teams to start thinking about these issues. It’s good practice to formalize this team and establish a social business center of excellence to tackle this head on.  It’s an investment with huge dividends.

Image: Blue Print from Big Stock

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • http://community-roundtable.com/ Hillary

    Great post. This understanding was by far one of the most significant “aha” moments in my learning curve. At first I thought building an external campaign was *the* exciting function of social media, but as I started meeting members at The Community Roundtable who were primarily facing inward and focusing on enterprise collaboration and the immense cultural challenges that come with the territory, I realized how much bigger this social transformation really is — and real lasting change happens from the inside out.

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

     Hi Hillary .. i had the same journey as you! ; ) Glad we were able to see beyond the “bright and shiny” object!

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Great stuff, Michael. I’d wager that once people figure this out, social media may have a chance of growing up. 

  • Thomas

    Good one, Michael. I did same experience and still collecting those ones of Silos stories.
    I think two things will be happen with the same solution to get a real Social Business environment at the end. Firstly we wait of a generation change and secondly (the harder way but it’s still there) to bring in an common way good practices on the top to reach the right awareness on and on. Mastering a Team of Champions to setup the right basis for the next step like as you said a social business centrer of excellence. Normally you need to take this way alone but in nowadays you can take a lot of different good examples with support from enthusiastic people across the network.

  • http://www.offshorecompanyexperts.com/en/index.html Jonathan Nichol

    I find myself reading your blog quite often!   I love the way you write your posts!

  • Neotericuk – website design

    Really Awesome Michael! I would like to say that the strategy is very good and well structured. Thanks for sharing with us.