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Chapter 22

Social Media Takes a Community Effort

We initially discussed this topic in Chapter 16, however it deserves further discourse as we examine resources and requirements in order to build a supporting infrastructure and team to lead the socialization of our outbound efforts.

Truthfully, many departments, not all however, will be forced to socialize and therefore require social programs at the departmental level executed at the departmental level and perhaps managed by a centralized group that most likely oversees other factions of branding, marketing or communications concurrently.

So for anyone inside or outside your organization, including vendors, who insist that they own or are responsible for Social Media, think again. Even if business units or individuals are already practicing outbound social engagement, Chapter 21 encourages solidarity through structured and relegated strategy, planning and orchestration. There is a pressing need for management to press the pause button to assess and define the greater goals, provide cohesive and methodical plans, and organize teams and individuals around executable elements in order to funnel activities, messages, stories, and value propositions into one brand image and experience.

The Society and Culture of Business

Through listening and direct engagement, we learn everything, not only about where we need to be and what to do once we’re there, but also who we need, in what capacity, and to what extent to maintain a meaningful and value-added presence. Intelligence also applies to bandwidth, scale, and headcount. This valuable information isn’t just relegated to any one group within your organization as you’ll learn through the Conversation Prism and Index exercises. You’ll quickly learn that conversations map directly back to specific departments and thus require knowledgeable responses and voices in order to consistently navigate and sculpt perception and important conversations as they happen.

Our presence is requested in more than one channel in more than one capacity.

Over the years, I have established dedicated teams within organizations to learn and also educate other teammates and executives on the values and capabilities of new media. Eventually, I would then instruct these persons or crews on their specific responsibilities and activities based on my research through the Conversation Prism and Index as well as my discoveries during any related network analysis and new media audits. Many of these teams would then serve as an internal council to counsel the company on overall social media strategies and programs.  As such, I inevitably assumed the role of social architect and engineer in many instances to establish workflow, assess resources, and create a working infrastructure that could support social projects and programs across the business or enterprise based on the resources that either existed or should exist based on my findings. In both small and large companies, I learned that establishing a framework and org chart for introducing, managing, supporting, and measuring new media strategies can be more difficult than actually identifying influencers, discovering opportunities for successful engagement, and building communities across the Web.

EXAMPLE: New Media Board of Advisors; Governance

Governance implies regulation, administration, and management, and indeed it is recommended for any organization new to interactive media or those already entrenched online but in need of a reboot in order to centralize and orchestrate a more cohesive, meaningful, and value-added program.

Accountability is crucial to the success and efficiency of both top level and program level initiatives and thus the BoA is empowered to observe, report, and in some cases admonish those who operate outside of their assigned realm or role.

Assemblage of a New Media Taskforce

If the internal board serves as the brains of this outfit, the assemblage of a new media taskforce is its ears, arms, legs, and eyes. An expert taskforce is essential to engagement and as such, the function of socializing media within the organization can be relegated to a team of dedicated specialists before it is deployed company- or agency-wide.

Practice makes perfect.

This is not unlike hiring internal corporate legal counsel, accounting, investor relations, or communications. Maintaining an active and ready roster of talented, knowledgeable, and experienced professionals allows business teams and decision makers to lead, support, adapt, or respond to any given scenario intelligently, as needed. The resources are always on tap and designed to serve, help, and direct.

Direction must come from within. Level strategy and counsel must also reside in house. Why? These individuals are closest to the culture, commission, ambition, and purpose of the organization. It is they who can accurately counsel each division on strategy, how to get started, and also connect them to the help they may need.

In some cases this is already done within organizations today, however it’s decentralized. Business units are empowering themselves to execute in the social web for various justifiable and also untenable reasons. They are tapping internal as well as already established external resources to establish presences across the web and also initiate engagement with or without the company’s official sanctioning of the effort.

Creating structure and aligning the teams and champions behind a concerted effort is paramount and far more effective, and critical, to the overall branding, marketing, communications, sales, and service systems.

The conductor must possess intimate knowledge of the music, its composition and arrangement as well as the players in order to perform passionately and flawlessly.

Organizational Transformation: Redesigning the New Marketing Landscape

Personally I have been on both the architectural and execution teams, empowering individuals and teams responsible for leading the disparate efforts for the internal groups and divisions either seeking direction or realignment on their social programs. In most cases, we have implemented this specialized taskforce. Depending on the organization, this team or individual reported directly to corporate communications, executive management, and/or the board of new media advisors. This taskforce maintained a dedicated stable of qualified internal and external resources that remained at the ready should any division need their support.

You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone

It’s not just a lyric in songs that reveal heartbreak. It’s a lesson that not only serves in life and love, but also our professional lives.

This section is written for managers, executives and the champions and change agents within the organization inspiring transformation. Collaboration and participation amongst influencers and tastemakers is inevitable. The difference between where we are today and where need to be is distanced only by time to acceptance and implementation. However, there is a factor that we haven’t yet discussed and it’s pivotal to the future of any organizational transformation. Human and intellectual capital combined with passion and perseverance, is priceless. There are change agents and champions within the organization at this very moment who are feeling hopeless, unappreciated, and frustrated. Without immediate action and the semblance of hope, their inspiration will soon fade and either result in a broken and spiritless morale or the loss of the employee altogether.

There are many factors that contribute to this serious and preventable state. On the brand side, the infrastructure and reward system for innovation, as it exists, is restricted and actually works against fostering and implementing the necessary strategies and correlated tasks to effectively compete for the future. Instead of assessing and embracing positive change, many decision makers challenge or belittle it. These acts of resistance or ignorance contribute to the crushing of human spirit that galvanizes the motivation, vision, and ambition of visionaries and change agents. Their passion is unparalleled and is indeed a precious commodity.

However, ignorance is bliss until it’s not.

Without the proactive efforts of listening to the relevant markets and their employees, management teams will find themselves without the very catalysts who can help them make the transition from yesterday to tomorrow.

Whether or not the glass of water is half empty or half full is dependent on your views as either an optimist or pessimist. Or does it? I believe that the state of the existence is tied to action. The answer lies in whether or not the water is being poured or consumed. If water is flowing into the glass, it is therefore half full. Ergo, if you are in the act of drinking from it, the glass is half-empty.

The difference between a perpetual state of either vanishing or pervading is in the action of the management team.

The reality is that vision, enthusiasm, and optimism represent only one part of the solution. The true resolution is interwoven in the action necessary to demonstrate momentum that incites change. This is the source of hope for champions. The recognition of their ideas and the support for their implementation is their reward.

We’re working against time and an unrelenting shift in market behavior and influence. Without our champions and advocates, we fall that much further behind in what is in reality, inescapable. The recognition and rewarding of talent and passion is less costly today in time and money than it is in the near future when you have to replace them with more expensive, less vested personnel.

And for those who are thinking about leaving, share your concerns. Their response will dictate your next move. But if I may offer a small bit of advice, in order to solicit action, create a sense of urgency…

Contribute to the change you wish to see to bring about the change you need to succeed.

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