5 Ways To Reduce the Risk of Engaging in Social Media

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Last week I was invited to talk with my good friend Paul Chaney from Bizzuka on his very popular show User Friendly Thinking on Blog Talk Radio. Paul and I got to talk about the risk of engaging in social media on a corporate level and from that conversation bubbled up this post.

In the age of the social web, companies can no longer afford to delay their response to the conversation taking place. They need guidance, structure and security when embarking down the road of social media and how to use it. Companies need a “risk aversion process” for learning social media. So here are 5 ways that a company can reduce that risk.

1) First,  approach it like a product launch in other words, you need to assign one or more resources and make them accountable. It’s amazing what happens when more people or departments have ownership, or “skin in the game”, of a project or task.  So for instance typically IT initiates or has ownership of most web 2.0 projects, and thus a lot of the heat falls on them, right?

But what if marketing, PR and IT all had ownership of the success of a social media initiative? And what if the word came down from the top first?  Typically when employees know that their president or CEO is supporting it, they’re more apt to embrace it.  The point is, if you engage the right internal resources that will need to be involved (legal, marketing, corporate communications., executive leadership, IT, and product management)…and do it early on, AND let them have input and belief that they have influence, and ownership as well?… You have a much better chance to succeed in the long run.

2) Second, you can reduce the risk by reviewing the corporate goals / objectives in three month increments and APPLY or review the social media strategies that are complimenting the overall corporate strategies. Make sure the strategies mesh-the same way your marketing materials and their messaging is consistent.

Obviously you need to know the social media objectives first before you can apply the strategies, but the key is to weave them into the rest of the mix. This way they are as relevant, and as high priority and as funded(hopefully) as everything else on the table. And keep the social media goals reachable.

I like to use the analogy of the team that is getting ready to start their season: a) Lets have a winning season b) Lets win x amount of games c) Lets make the playoffs d) Lets win the division etc etc.. I think a lot of people or companies think that social media is this cure-all elixir that happens over night and it’s just not so.

By periodically reviewing the goals, this allows you to see progress and to tweak where appropriate.

3) Next you need to map the results back to either making  money, building equity or reducing costs. This is your mantra!

This ensures longevity and value to the company. CEO’s and business owners can wrap their arms around that. We all know that a lot of people and organizations are currently hung up on the ROI of social media and rightly so; because that really does track back nicely to the risk argument and the reasons NOT to do social media… but that’s why we like to look at the results from the 3 goals mentioned above. Those are tangible and measurable.  I’ll say it again…You need to make money, save money or build equity.

4) Let’s make sure there are guardrails.  Companies will not move forward if they feel there is no control.  As well, companies do not like to operate without nets.. (For example a bad product goes out, or gets released. There is a process there to Recall, Refund, and service those affected customers- there’s a process.  There has to be some semblance of a crisis management plan where it’s… If this happens, then we will do this….If this happens, so and so will handle this etc etc..

5) Lastly, let’s have a road map with intervals where you can Test, Measure and Adapt-TMA. In social media, one of the great things about the space, is that you have the ability to test and measure certain things and adapt fairly quickly because the results are so real time, and so immediate.  So yes, Analytics are key and I love them, but let’s make sure we’re measuring the right things in social media. Because it’s easy to think you are being social, if you’re measuring the wrong thing.

Lastly I was asked about instituting corporate social media policies and if I had any resources to suggest and at the time, I did not have my resources readily available, So here are 2 great links to some sources for (1) Corp. Social Media Policies. and (2) Social Media Policies

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10 websites to get you started in 2009

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In the new year its all about doing what we do better, streamlining it and being more effective, here is a list of websites and blog posts that just might help you get that ball rolling.

Lee Odden whom I respect very much has just posted an article about 6 social search engines. The great thing about this, is that I have not heard of any of these before and I love when there are new shiny things out there that might make what we do better. Let me know what you think.

Contrary to how some of you might use Twitter or better yet, the way you add followers, I like to check out who’s following me before I follow them back. With that being said, Taly Weiss started following me the other day, and as I’m wont to do, I checked out her bio and then checked out her  blog site, Trendspotting, This site has so much cool data that it can only help to shape your opinions to make you smarter. I’m glad we found each other.

So staying on the topic of Twitter, if you don’t know what Mr. Tweet is yet, I’d suggest you investigate. Do so at your own risk since it helps you determine who you should follow. You could end up using it all day. But even better, check out Mr. Tweet’s blog too.

And while you’re at it, read this article about the 10 ways that twitter will be changing blog design in 2009. I’m not sure I totally agree with it, but you can definitely see how Twitter is weaving it’sw ay into the fabric of what do online.

I haven’t used this yet but at $139 a year for online  computer and technical support, it isn’t a bad deal. Although iYogi led me to think it was a yoga site.

Here’s a great list of the up and coming companies of  the 2009 Social CRM/CRM 2.0 Space, maybe one of them might help you or your company?

Profilactic is a social media aggregator/lifestreaming service that pulls together just about everything you and your friends create online, it currently supports 190 social sites.

I came across Ennect somehow somewhere, maybe one of its web marketing components  might work for you?

A very good friend of mine Paul Chaney writes a great blog, check out what his 4 goal words are for 2009 and then go check out the company Paul works for Bizzuka

Ok, so now you have 10 sites or blog posts that can jump start 2009. You see if we can’t share the resources that we bookmark, then how else are we going to get better at what we do? I need to rely on you to help me get better. What sites or blogs would you suggest or recommend?

13 Random Links for Tuesday

 

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I go back to see what I’ve bookmarked over the past few days and weeks.  it’s an interesting compilation.

BuiltWith is a website analysis tool, providing technical analysis and SEO optimization information to further your website’s marketing, sales and navigation effectiveness. It seems pretty cool, though, if you want a really neat web tool check this one out website grader

Clay Shirky is a pretty interesting person who has a new book out that I have on my “got to get” list it’s called, Here comes everybody, I read an excerpt and it was really really good.

I have Mike Stopforth’s web site bookmarked, he’s is an entrepreneur, writer and speaker who heads up Cerebra, South Africa’s leading social media company, I thought it best to see what others across the world are doing with social media.

Check out Utterz when you get a chance. With Utterz, you can instantly share your news by creating a multi-media posting in voice, video, picture and text, right from your mobile phone, or online. It works with every phone, on every carrier, which is interesting.

I struck up a conversation with Paul Chaney a few weeks ago and this is his company Bizzuka, I added Paul to my 4 more social media experts post

Here is a great post on…alas.. Taking a class in social media.

I’m always on the lookout for a good solid analytics package other than Urchin, and this one was referred to me the other day, check out Mint.

And lastly, I’m talking with these people tomorrow Ecairn, I’m looking forward to giving it a test drive.