Imagine, if you will, a company with different business units, a multitude of social media accounts, uncoordinated content efforts, and varying degrees of engagement. Frankly, you should not have to imagine such a company because they are quite common.
Many organizations start small with social media and then different teams or business areas branch out by establishing their own social media accounts and before you know it you have a social media hodgepodge with no cohesive strategy.
Nobody seemed to be asking questions along the way regarding whether the organization (or the subunits) needed those social media accounts. Where was the rationalization? Every channel opened requires resources and content and that is where so many companies fail.
The following suggestions are for firms who find themselves in that situation. Hopefully, these suggestions will also help those just getting started avoid the situation altogether.
So let’s begin the process of turning chaos into well-oiled operations.
Begin by examining the current situation to understand what is working well and what is not. Where is the opportunity or opportunities for the organization to improve or even surpass its competitors? How is the content performing? Which channels are strong and which channels are under-performing or not performing at all? Who are the stakeholders, both internal and external? Who primes the current social media activities and how do they go about their business? What tools and procedures do they use? Are they managing social media activities well or are they overwhelmed? What is the organization’s receptiveness to change in these areas?
Once the analysis is complete, then the organization needs to rationalize what channels to keep and which ones to divest. If they are reluctant to divest then there may be an opportunity to improve the situation in other ways yet to be explored. Regardless, the rationalization process could be filled with friction as some groups may be unwilling to relinquish their accounts for divestiture or hear criticism even though they are under-performing. Making sure they are heard will go a long way to helping the overall change management that will be necessary.
Let’s clarify something here. The intent is not to rationalize which social media accounts to keep and which ones to divest, only to go back to the old habits of ad hoc posting and uncoordinated activities. There has to be a new way of doing things and the approach worth considering has to do with infrastructure and the associated operations.
The organization already has resources managing disparate accounts with varying degrees of success, but what they are missing is the ability to scale content curation across all channels while minimizing the impact on existing resources.
Often the existing resources are challenged to produce and/or curate the necessary amount of content every channel requires. That is where most organizations fail.
As mentioned above, every opened channel requires content and resourcing. While an organization can stretch some resources across multiple channels, it’s hard to stretch content across channels without proper planning and a coordinated strategy. That is where an enterprise oversight approach can help.
Center of Excellence
Social media activities are often happening in different pockets within an organization without coordination. An operating model or structure has to be established at an enterprise level that cuts across the entire organization and incorporates the activities happening in those different pockets.
If there is reluctance by parties in those different pockets to defer to the enterprise center of excellence (ECE), then there is a possible compromise. The ECE can operate behind the scenes as a middleman or operational infrastructure. If the ECE focuses on augmenting the content creation and curation efforts along with the distribution across all the various channels, then the different business units can remain as the voices of the organization, engaging stakeholders on the front line.
The ECE can scale content and distribution without overstepping the roles and responsibilities of the different social media primes. It’s about helping and collaborating rather than politics, silos, and turf wars. It is easy to say that here but we have all seen some units within a company lord their power over others even though they are not reflecting best practices.
What if you could help them meet or exceed that standard while still saving face?
One other thing worth noting about this enterprise approach is the cumulative effect of enabling more people and more accounts to make an enterprise more social. In this instance, the sum is truly greater than the individual parts. It is already being seen with professional services firms whose in-house experts have a stronger following and reputation in their particular areas than the firm does alone.
For example, a major accounting consultancy may have a substantial following, but that may not be enough. Adding up the audiences of their key partners and consultants, known for their expertise in specific areas, the organization or brand has greater reach through multiple channels than through a singular brand channel.
Proper coordination of efforts, scalable content curation, and the incorporation of enterprise social media management tools that support employee advocacy and the compliant use of social media are required.
If done right, an organization can find the success with social media that may have previously eluded them.
In just under a thousand words, I have made some suggestions for enterprise social media operations that are by no means easy (nor crushingly difficult) to implement. It cannot be over emphasized that change management is one of the biggest and most overlooked aspects of doing anything related to social media within an enterprise. Respecting the process, the stakeholders, and their reluctance to change will help move the organization from chaos to a well-oiled social enterprise with broader reach and content curation at scale.