Historically, much of the discussion regarding social media has focused on B2C and external engagement with customers. Thanks to the evangelism of Jeremiah Owyang and Brian Solis, both from the Altimeter Group, and Michael Brito of Edelman, as well as others, that discussion has gradually begun to emphasize that organizations look inside and develop social media familiarity and capability.
Regardless of whether that discussion emphasizes B2C or B2B when it comes to external engagement, the successful incorporation of social media into day-to-day operations and the adoption by internal stakeholders depend on a number of factors that can be organized into six key areas: commitment, culture, content, channels, consistency, and conversation. The following explains each of those in greater details.
The world does not need another Facebook page, Twitter account, or other social media presence that ends up being abandoned when people discover the level of commitment required for social media success was greater than they anticipated. If your company is not up to it, then don’t do it. Your brand will thank you.
When you think about your corporate culture, how conducive is it to being more social and adopting social media technologies? How many employees are active in social media in their personal lives? The active people will be wise choices to deputize to help you roll out social media across the enterprise. As they show others how it is done and the benefits that can be derived, others will gradually join the movement.
Most organizations have no shortage of stories to tell and content to share, but they are not always knowledgeable about how to repurpose or modify that content to make it more discoverable, consumable, and shareable. By looking at the various pieces of content you have as assets, aligning it with your planned marketing efforts, and incorporating representation from key areas of your company, you can create a calendar that lays out what kind of content to share, where you will share it, who will create it, and in what formats.
While deciding which channels to reach customers through will likely be based on where your customers spend their time, you will also need to consider which channels are most aligned with where and how you do business, what your company can reasonably handle from an adoption and staffing standpoint, and which channels your company can credibly participate in. If it looks or feels forced then it probably is.
From the beginning, companies need to establish the thematic voice for their content and approach in social media. Granted, this can evolve over time based on how the audience responds, but your efforts should not be scattershot. You can only develop a following by showing people what they can expect from you in terms of content and conversation. People seek out content and conversations based on interests and referrals from likeminded individuals — take advantage of that.
Furthermore, many brands use campaigns to garner followers and build a fan base. Such efforts play an important role, but consistent effort must be applied to maintain and grow a community after and/or in between campaigns.
The importance of content was mentioned previously, but active engagement in social media cannot be based on content alone. There has to be conversation too. The first thing we do when we meet people we might do business with in the real world is talk to them to learn more about them, their needs, and their goals. People need to know that there are humans behind the brand or logo. Show some humanity by conversing with people via social media and you will raise the likability of your organization. After all, people buy from whom they like.
While not an exhaustive list, these are six examples of the many actions organizations can take to become a more social enterprise. I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations for making enterprises more social.