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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