How Should a Company Dive into Social Media?

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Part 1 was When Should a Company Dive into Social Media? Sorry for the delay on this post, it's been a heck of a week at work – 3 projects coming to a close, one of them over a year in the making!

I also paused since there was some great discussion around the first post, especially in a post from the folks at Deep Tech Dive:

But I question Doug's assertion that you should first ?involve all the leaders in your company ? those who own the strategy of the corporation.? Perhaps Indianapolis is on a different planet (Jeff, you're from Kentucky, what do you think?) where the executive team has the time and understanding of social media to reach kumbaya. But here, the quickest way to kill a new communications initiative is to hold it hostage to top-level consensus. Not that leadership approval isn't important, but that it is nearly impossible to achieve, especially BEFORE you can show any concrete ROI.

I probably missed the mark on this one in my post: I'm not concerned about having a consensus decision at a boardroom level. What I'm really concerned with is helping the leadership of the company recognize the opportunities and traps that will arise by opening your business up to this strategy. The author continues:

A start-small strategy sometimes works better, in a number of ways. All you need is one enterprising writer, some very inexpensive tools, and one communications problem you can measure. Perhaps it's as basic as getting more traffic to your Web site. Or raising awareness of new support materials and programs. Or broadening customer interest by telling interesting anecdotes about how real people are using your products or services.

While i agree that this will supply your company with a quick start and not enough time to go to the ‘black hole committee', I have seen this approach have both excellent and devastating results. Perhaps the best example I saw of this strategy was friend Chris Baggott‘s blog on Email Marketing Best Practices. Of course, Chris had the advantage of being both the owner and Chief Marketing Officer of ExactTarget, so it was a little easier to jump back then.

The question isn't whether Chris' blog had impact. It had incredible impact! The question is whether or not it reached its full potential and had the business impact, organization-wide, that it could have. Chris left ExactTarget to start Compendium Blogware (disclaimer: I helped Chris develop the original concept) because he envisioned this as well!

Chris learned the ropes of blogging over several years on Typepad. By the time Chris figured out the potential of the blog on Search Engine Marketing, integration, etc., it was too late to move off of Typepad and take full advantage of the blogging medium. He was backlinked everywhere (he's still #1 for Email Marketing Best Practices“. There were a few dozen other terms that Chris would have liked to have been associated with for lead generation at ExactTarget, but he had no way of understanding that the day that he just jumped and started blogging. He also would have loved to have other people in the organization blog as well – to compound the impact.

Who's Telling You How?

office spaceThis is why I'm such a huge advocate of finding the right Social Media consultants for your business. A great consultant can review your tools, your business and find the appropriate tools that will fit into your strategy. Local social media consultants are also aware of the social media landscape – and can assist you with where to execute your strategy, not just how.

Your IT guy can have WordPress running in 5 minutes (the famous 1-click install). Does that mean he knows how to construct your theme for search engine crawlers? Does he know how to layout the permalinks and page titles for maximum impact? Does he know what plugins are a must have? No, he doesn't – otherwise he'd be running a successful blog, speaking, and consulting on the side. This is one of those areas where you can get totally duped by the Open Source spirit.

I love Open Source! I love WordPress! Would I use it to start a comprehensive social media strategy for a corporation? Nope. WordPress is an author-centric content management system, not an enterprise company-centric content management system.

Who's the Voice of Your Company?

Often, your marketing department are not your best resources for executing a social media strategy. Marketers are a keen bunch. We think on our feet and we often have the overall brand strategy in mind when we speak. If you enter a social network and start slinging lingo that's usually reserved for B.S. Bingo, it's an automatic F. If you aren't asked to leave, be prepared to have your company harangued publicly for violating the key principle of social media – trust.

There are people in your organization right now that have built credibility, authority, and a huge network in their industry. Those are the connectors and influencers that you need to recruit into your strategy!

Don't Eat Just One!

Last point on how to get started. Please don't put all your trust in a single ‘expert'. Expert is a term that's relative, especially with regard to social media. Companies are just scraping the surface right now on how to leverage this incredible medium to build relationships and findability for their companies. Beware of extreme terms like never, all, nobody, everyone… the strategy you don't bet on may have been the one to get you your biggest win.

Find a few social media consultants, folks who can understand your business, your industry, your marketing strategies, your technology adoption and who can educate your leadership team on this fascinating new medium.

One comment

  1. 1

    Doug, we’re glad to see another installment of your series. Thanks for addressing our concern about management consensus. We agree that experts are important for avoiding landmines and spotting opportunities. It’s a great topic for our deep-tech crowd, so we’re continuing our coverage of the series over on McBruBlog. We look forward to part 3! – David

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