Activating social media across a business might seem like a simple task, but it takes a solid strategy in order to succeed. Rob Key of Converseon explains why.
In the thriving world of social media, it can often be overwhelming to contribute, monitor, and stay part of the conversation. But for a business, having an enterprise-wide social media strategy firmly in place is an absolute must in today's rocket-paced digital media landscape.
For an overview of the challenges facing companies in the social media sphere, Rob Key, CEO, Converseon, a full service social consultancy, and Pauline Ores, Market Insights, IBM, took iMedia Brand Summit attendees on a tour of some of the challenges facing today's corporate brands, and some proven and easily adaptable solutions that can bolster brand security in social media.
Key laid out some of the essential issues an enterprise must address in order to stay on top of the social media conversation to both protect and execute digital brand strategies, while Ores helped illustrate how some of those techniques, tools, and strategies have become essential to IBM in developing strategies and measuring results on every level of social media.
With more than 400,000 employees worldwide, IBM has been using social media tools longer than most companies, according to Ores. But creating an enterprise-wide social media strategy and developing a vision on which to execute that strategy was essential for IBM in the digital age -- a strategic approach to social media research led to faster process, lower costs, the elimination of redundancy, consistent social media metrics, workflow efficiency, and a source of continuous monitoring and measurement.
Additionally, to respond to social media with greater speed and accuracy, as simple as it may sound, enterprises will also need to develop an active and well-organized internal enterprise community, which IBM has built on their own Lotus offerings -- a must-have in the arsenal required for brand survival, success, and sustainability.
"Social media at the end of the day has to come from the inside out -- from the company to consumer," Key said.
As an example of how rapidly social media and its demands on a brand have shifted, Key gave a short chronology of how 2009 was the year of the checklist for social media -- "Do we have a brand presence on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc." -- and 2010 is a time of social media "maturity," activating that preparedness across the business infrastructure, and making sure that social media cohesiveness is part of the overall company mission.
"Before you do anything, start listening," Key told the audience. "Embed listening into the organization."
So how does a company accomplish such a monumental task and empower employees and departments to participate in monitoring and encouraging brand engagement on social media platforms? Based on Converseon's approach, Key shared the following insights with the iMedia audience:
- Aspects of social media may be technically simple but culturally challenging
- Real, sustainable value derives from infusing social into the DNA of the brand -- across the enterprise
- Social media is an engine for organizational transformation and requires an expansion of the role of marketing within the organization
- We believe brands are only beginning to scratch the surface of social's eventual potential
- There is a proven blueprint to get from "here to there"
For any enterprise to securely oversee its brand in social media, the analytics breakdown for monitoring and mining information is as follows:
Discover -- Is anything being said?
Keep Score -- How much is happening? What is our share of mentions? Are we mentioned more or less than last quarter?
Understand -- What does it mean? What are the implications for how we communicate? Or how we are positioned?
From low to high priority, steps for engagement include:
Ad Hoc -- Limited information
Triage -- Insights and findings passed to customer service or PR
Strategic -- Proactive, scalable, and meaningful conversation that generates insights
The roadmap for a social media strategy, according to Key, is straightforward, linear, and can provide a business with the techniques and concepts it needs to stay on top of the conversation. It is crucial, Key added, to have a standardized approach, and unless that's the case, you cannot scale these techniques across a large company:
Conception: Enterprise social media is different.
- Customized constituent informational presentations
- Establish KPIs
- Establish governance/cross-functional teams
- Desired outcomes
- Workflow/use case discovery
- Review other technical work flow and integration needs
Listening: Embed "listening" into the organization and map landscape.
- Identify all internal use cases/desired workflows
- Conversation Mining
- Conversation Manager
- Search results analysis
- Deliver relevant data to key constituents, such as HR, communications, marketing, customer service, legal, R&D, and more
Additionally, at the very core of this "listening" strategy for businesses are enterprise solutions such as consistent methodology, consistent data, and custom configuration that are implemented among PR, market research, customer service, and corporate communications.
Policies: Establish contemporary legal/ethical documents and standards.
- Blog policies
- Safe harbor/DMCA
- WOMMA Code of Ethics/compliance
- Regulatory requirements
Other key parts of Converseon's recommended roadmap include: Infrastructure, Training, Campaign, and Optimization.
Near the end of the presentation, Key stated that the ingredient for success is karmic communication: The effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences. And then in the words of the late President John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what the community can do for you, but what you can do for the community."
Converseon won the 2009 SAMMY Award for "Best Social Agency," and has offices in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, U.K., Switzerland, Australia, India, and strategic relationships in China. Founded in 2001, the company provides the listening, engagement technologies, organizational consulting, and blended engagement solutions for the industry's only end-to-end social solution.
Gretchen Hyman is executive editor for iMediaconnection.com.