This not the typical post about how to sell social media to your boss. The fact of the matter is, your boss is probably on Facebook, if not their children are. So, they already have an idea of what social media is. They may have their own unique opinions of what social media really is, but they know. I believe we’ve moved past the education phase of social media.
This post is for managers. Communication, marketing and media managers that have to respond to the changing times. It’s likely your boss has seen an articles in the WSJ or NY Times about companies who have been burned by or are making money with social media, and they want to know what you’re thinking is. If your senior leadership is like mine you probably received this feedback via copied newsprint or faxed to you with a note: FYI, pls read and provide recommendation.
And, you know what they are looking for is: “read this and tell me what it means in case someone asks me about it.” You will probably think to respond with “another case of blown opportunity”, “trust and transparency” or “this is what I would have done.” Your personal opinion is valuable, but you’re a manger and the real question that needs to be answered is, “what’s our process if this happens to us or what’s our process so we can start doing some of this.”
Here are some thoughts on how to integrate social media into your group and how to manage it’s usage in your organization.
1. Start with the business strategy. If your communications aren’t tied to business strategy, than you already have some problems that social media will only amplify quickly. The first thing you should ask yourself is how will using different channels help me achieve my communications goals to support the business.
2. Understand the channel. Just because everyone is blogging or is on Twitter doesn’t mean you have to be. Read the research that’s out there – there’s a ton of it and it’s all free. Understand what each channel’s medium is; what audience it impacts; what messages you can deliver through them. You can’t do all of them, so choose wisely the ones that will highlight your brand, you have the talent for and which you could easily have success with. For example, if no one on your team has ever done video editing and all you have is a flip cam, maybe YouTube isn’t the channel for you.
3. Assess your team. Understand who on your team has bandwidth or has an interest in these channels. You want to be sure your team will work the tactics for you and can achieve results. You as a manager need to understand what they are doing in order to highlight success and provide more opportunity for more social media i.e., budget, resources, political clearance, etc.
4. Build your business case. “Everyone is doing it” and “have you seen newspaper subscription rates” are not business cases. Understand your costs, the time you’re willing to spend on the new medium and more importantly what current activities you’re willing to sacrifice to engage.
Before you get to strategy and tactics, clearly state your objectives for the work. Articulate your goals in the front end and that will better inform your strategy or be enough to buy you some time to start that strategic thinking process. This business plan stage really buys you trust in the organization and allows you to show that you’ve thought it out a plan instead of just doing activities. Your senior leadership won’t fund trends, but they’ll fund outcome-based plans.
5. Align with cross discipline champions. If you’re in corporate communications outreach to marketing, if in marketing outreach to advertising or PR. The key is getting people out side your of group to understand your activities and serve as a voice of support once your work starts to become real. This also allows for them to be included in the strategy development process – and that’s good politics.
6. Get help. Good help. Look to your agency or internal thought leaders for support on your plan. Agencies are great because they have probably helped other clients with this integration. Those clients won’t talk too loud about its agencies efforts in its programs and the agencies aren’t going to take blatant credit for the success their client s are realizing. Well there are some. ;)
Also look to educate yourself a little deeper on the topics and channels by reading others’ thoughts and internalizing what they could mean for your activities. As much as I’ve praised agencies, I always say, you can find everything you need to know about social media by getting a free Twitter account and following just a handful of people. These people either publish their own thoughts or mine the internet and share things you couldn’t find by yourself, because of time or energy.
7. Demonstrate value, showcase your team. This is like a two-f’er. Once your team has started to execute and get results, take your team on an internal roadshow to demonstrate things you’ve learned, found, done. This shows that you’ve made progress, have the right team in place and that you’re doing what you said you’d do. Organizational anxiety starts when people are unsure who to turn to. Even if you’re a manager that know all things social media, people will have anxiety if it appears you’re the only one doing things. They need to have some reassurance that others are involved and if they’re good managers themselves, they will look in their groups to see if they have team members they’d like to pair up with your team to learn from or to find ways to participate too. Also before you call a meeting, decide what “ask” you want and the results of each roadshow stop should be.
Hope this helps. If you’re a manager and have successfully integrated social media in your team, p,ease let me know what’s worked for you.