Closeness to the customer, understanding how your customers’ needs for communication and technology access and a strong editorial voice with a strength in developing deep brand-to-customer relationships are some of the essential ingredients in thought leadership and social media, but they’re not everything and they’re not enough, unfortunately, to make social media a sustainable part of your culture.
Social media marketing, and the thought leadership required to feed the content engine that powers it, cannot be carried by the marketing team alone let alone by a single social media director or community manager. (Yet, time and again in our courses and webinars, I see organizations who expect this to happen. It doesn’t.) Moreover, social media at the enterprise level (whether your enterprise is 2 or 20,000 people) requires effective change management to “institutionalize the change” (step 8 in the change management process) and making social media engagement part of who you are and what you do. (Like quality and customer service)
Social Media and the Meaningful Goal
Effective social media participation as a brand requires an infrastructure and discipline to succeed over the long-term. And nothing succeeds over the long term like culture. Social media is not really about managing a mechanical machine but rather about leading smart people to engage with customers in the most human way possible in the channels that are most relevant to them today. Smart and engaging people need to reach for the meaningful goal of “customer intimacy” in order to really understand what customers want to see in your social media channels.
Sustainable Social Media Culture
Creating a sustainable social media culture means getting to the level of having a social media center of excellence, to be sure, but sustainability also means having a cultural closeness to the tools, discipline, etiquette and attitude that make social media a successful communication channel. Social media requires new thinking, new processes and a new level of customer intimacy.
Creating a social media culture (or any cultural change for that matter) takes effort and time, but here are five things to put on your checklist when assessing and managing your organization’s cultural adaptation to social media.
- We have, and continue to communicate the vision for social media in our industry (not just our organization) and how our participation holds meaning and supports our communication goals.
- We capture and share small and big wins in social media so that the organization can see how social media is contributing to our overall success.
- Marketing is no longer the sole creator of social media content. Rather, it has been distributed to functions like sales, R&D, HR and others to tell a balanced and dimensional story about the organization.
- We have charged every department responsible for social media content creation with getting more intimate with the “demand side” issues of what our customers want to hear though social media. (as opposed to just pumping out more “supply side” content that we have stored up in our heads)
- We trust that our teams are bringing their best thought leadership and acting on behalf of the customer in social media. Trust is the foundation for all teams and it’s the foundation for a successful social media team effort.
Of course, there’s much, much more to the story on becoming a social media culture, but this is a great start!