For companies wanting to introduce social media into their operations it can be difficult to know where to start. It’s helpful to understand that successful social media strategies are built around the key benefits social media can deliver to the organization. Success comes when you align the strengths of social media with the critical strategic goals of the company.
I’m thinking about this today because an Allyis content manager recently completed a social media strategy for her client and shared it with me. The client wants a B2B social media marketing strategy to help their business market to its partner community. I can’t share the entire plan, for obvious reasons, but I wanted to share with you some key elements of it. I think they reveal what social media brings to an organization, elements that should be among any social media strategy’s goals.
Here are some of the stated goals of the plan and the social media benefit I see them illuminating:
1. Stated Goal: “Establish a social media strategy that broadens awareness of the existing marketing campaign – and helps partners and non-partners find info, tools, news, etc to help them during trying economic times”
- My Take: A good social media strategy improves information discoverability so people can find the most relevant information more quickly.
2. Stated Goal: “The root of our social media strategy is to market through relationship building, not shameless promotion”
- My Take: With the rise of social media “relationship marketing” is in the ascendancy. Social media strategies should be built to maximize a company’s ability to listen instead of talk
3. Stated Goal: “Content should not replicate what we already push through our existing portal, newsletters, etc. We want new, unique, more ‘fun’ content”
- My Take: Consumers of social media approach with an acceptance of and an expectation of more informality than they find in traditional media. That’s an opportunity to humanize your company. Embracing informality can enhance your ability to build relationships through social media — think of in-person social gatherings: informality is welcoming, formality is intimidating.
4. Stated Goal: “Discuss, don’t tell. Open the discussion, ask questions.” Don’t be “a one-sided conversation dominator.”
- My Take: Humility is a social catalyst.
5. Stated Goal: Establish and project a voice and personality (especially on Twitter) to make the conversation more human
- My Take: Don’t Don’t robotize the Twitter feedfeed. Humanity makes people want to engage with you and it reflects well on your company to allow that humanity to show through — especially if people are inclined to expect a more stodgy corporate attitude from you. Defying those expectations by just being a real person: big impact. A friend of mine was in line at Starbucks behind Steve Ballmer the other day. Ballmer forgot his wallet in the car and had to run out to get it. He came back and my friend let him back in line in front of him. Ballmer was appreciative of that move, and they chatted a bit. It’s good to hear that and cut through the myth and fabrication of Steve Ballmer and get a glimpse of the real human being. Social media gives all companies that opportunity.
So which of these five are the hardest goals to achieve in a corporate social media strategy? In my experience: informality and humanity because there are cultural elements wrapped up in them. Not all companies are comfortable relaxing their corporate personas to come off in the slightly unpolished way you have to if you want to sound human online. And not all companies feel comfortable relaxing controls to achieve the informality they need if they’re going to make people feel invited into the conversation. There often is a tension in corporate social media implementations between the old-fashioned, top-down, command-and-control editorial culture and the social media culture that is characterized by informality and — I should add — both a need for and an expectation of speed. Our content manager’s social media strategy doc reveals that her client still has to resolve that tension too. The challenge is this, she writes:
- (Need to) determine our internal approval process. (Example: Tweets are quick-paced; general idea is to see something and post. Will client or otherwise need to approve eachl> tweet?)
My take in addressing that question would be to follow the social media governance advice Chris Brogan gave at the recent IABC Seattle conference: “Teach people what NOT to say. Then let them talk.”