Posts Tagged ‘social media engagement’

CORPORATE SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT NEEDS C-SUITE BUY IN, PARTICIPATION

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Social media engagement is like casting a pebble in a pond: Networks grow in concentric circles. For any organization  looking to build its online presence, the networking and socialization should begin from within, and start at the top.

An interesting study released last spring by Austin-based PulsePoint Group, illustrates the importance of the “C-suite” in fostering organizational buy-in and excellence in social media use and engagement.  Notably, it found that:

  • Two-thirds of the  organizations  achieving the highest returns reported that their  C-suites are active advocates– that is, they commit to social engagement  as a strategy and they reallocate resources to make it happen.
  • However,  a full 28% of C-suite executives still don’t believe in social  engagement. And the number one reason? The inability to gauge ROI (45%).  For engagement to work, the C-suite has to believe in it and see  measurable returns.

For an organization exploring social media as a way to connect with its clients or audiences, the place to begin should always be with its employees and associates and the initial pitch should be made by the boss.

Enlisting your employees to be part of the conversation has a number of advantages. It allows you to tap into their networks and a large ready-made community of interest, and  synergize ongoing conversations to help project your brand and message. It  serves to bolster internal communications and create an organization-wide sense of empowerment and ownership of a new strategy.  It  also helps staff internalize and articulate the key organizational values, ethics and goals that make up your corporate brand.

This exercise can be formal or informal. Anything from training workshops to “lunch and learn” sessions will do as long as these provide the time and space to freely discuss the organization’s social media strategy and policies,  its benefits and costs, and everyone’s role in its implementation.   The most important point of these sessions is that they are opportunities for the organization’s leadership to share and discuss their goals and vision for the organization, how social media can help achieving these and explain how employees and other associates are key to achieving those goals.

In any hierarchical organization, a disconnect from the corporate leadership can cause uncertainty among the rank and file, stifling initiative and lead to a fallback to the safety of the status-quo. In a rapidly eveolving and competitive  environment, this can cause a brand to sputter and fail. And while in the past organizations embraced a tightly controlling spokesperson policy in the name of message discipline, in a communications environment where your audience becomes your medium, engagement and conversations must be the norm.

Making an organization’s chief executives its evangelists-in-chief and the face of online engagement will send a powerful and empowering message  to its employees.  Effective online social engagement is all about the capacity to engage and converse based on genuine caring about your community. A corporate social media strategy that begins from within, serves to empower employee engagement as brand ambassadors by bringing them into the corporate loop and recognizing the importance of their participation.

Effective social media engagement  requires a more horizontal, less hierarchical, and more trusting approach to external communication.  A critical part of this approach must involve bringing the c-suite and all employees into the social fold, and into the conversation–internally and externally.

POLICE SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT SHOULD START AT THE TOP

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Social media engagement is like casting a pebble in a pond: Networks grow in concentric circles. For any organization  looking to build its online presence, the networking and socialization should begin from within, and start at the top.  This is particularly true for organizations that interact with the public as front line service providers.  Police organizations fall into this category.

For a police force exploring social media, whether it is simply a question of populating its Facebook page or jump-starting a Twitter account, the place to begin should always be with its staff, sworn and civilian.

Enlisting your staff to be part of the conversation has a number of advantages. It allows you to tap into their networks and synergize ongoing conversations to help project your brand and amplify your message. It will serve to bolster internal communications and create an organization-wide sense of empowerment and ownership of the new strategy.  It will also help staff internalize and articulate the key organizational values, ethics and goals that make up your corporate brand.

This exercise can be formal or informal. Anything from training workshops to “lunch and learn” sessions will do as long as these provide the time and space to freely discuss the organization’s strategy, its benefits and costs, and everyone’s role in its implementation.   While technical know-how is important, online social engagement is all about the capacity to engage and converse.

Most importantly, these sessions should be opportunities for the organization’s leadership to share and discuss their objectives and vision for the organization and how social media can facilitate achieving these.

An interesting study released today  by Austin-based PulsePoint Group, illustrates the importance of the “C-suite” in fostering organizational buy-in and excellence in social media use and engagement.  Notably, it finds that:

  • Two-thirds of the  organizations  achieving the highest returns reported that their  C-suites are active advocates– that is, they commit to social engagement  as a strategy and they reallocate resources to make it happen.
  • However,  a full 28% of C-suite executives still don’t believe in social  engagement. And the number one reason? The inability to gauge ROI (45%).  For engagement to work, the C-suite has to believe in it and see  measurable returns.

In hierarchical organizations a disconnect from the leadership can cause uncertainty and a fallback to the safety of the status-quo.  And while in the past organizations embraced a tightly controlling spokesperson policy in the name of message discipline, today’s real-time social environment requires investing in engagement and conversations.

Effective social media engagement  requires a more horizontal, less hierarchical, and more trusting approach to external communication.  A critical part of this approach must involve bringing your  leadership into the social fold, and into the conversation–internally and externally.

In addition to helping to maintain message discipline and unity,  internal engagement will allow the organization to leverage its all of its networks, further amplify its message and extend its reach, and most importantly build buy-in.

If a police force wants its members–sworn and civilian–to become brand ambassadors it must empower them not only with the technical tools–from training, to the narrative, to PDAs–but also with the trust and support of their leadership.

ONLY ONE ONLINE PERSONA: YOU

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Call me old fashioned, but when I do business with someone, I like to know who they are. Online personas, avatars and other forms of identity cloaking are the stuff that online trolls and teenage bullies use, not professionals.  And isn’t social media supposed to be all about genuine engagement and transparency?

Yet, today, in another twist in the bizarre robocall saga, RackNine, the company that provided the automated calling service to the mysterious “Pierre Poutine” acknowledged that one of their employees uses an online pseudonym when dealing with clients.

The true identity of one Rick McKnight became an issue Monday when reporters, digging around the edges of the story, became intrigued by this person, who notwithstanding a massive online footprint, didn’t seem to cast a shadow.

RackNine decided to reveal the mystery man’s true identity and end media speculation. Rick McKnight–who has (had?) some 500 Facebook friends–is actually Rafael Martinez Minuesa, a Spaniard who works in web design and marketing for the firm.

In a statement, Mr. Minuesa said “Rick McKnight is a name I came up with to work with RackNine’s clients online and offline. I use this to discuss projects with clients, and online because it’s just convenient to have a persona for all the different social media sites.”

His boss, RackNine chief executive Matt Meier, says there’s nothing wrong with practice of using an alias when dealing with clients.

“We’re happy with people choosing whatever name they like. As a matter of fact, one of my tech support staff right now is named Timo.”

Now,  my name, like Mr. Minuesa’s, might not roll off the tongue as smoothly as say, Rick McKnight; and I may have to repeat and spell it from time to time, but it carries with it  the baggage–bad and good–of  five decades of personal and professional experiences and interactions.  Professionally and socially, one’s name should be their bond.

Creating an online persona to compartmentalize and cloak personal and professional experiences and social interactions is not only bad online form, but a terrible business practice.

Call me old fashioned, but whether they’re dialing our number, reading my blog or checking out  my LinkedIn account or our Facebook page I think our clients have a right to know that the ”persona” they’re dealing with is the real McCoy.

SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT REQUIRES INVESTMENT IN TIME, PATIENCE

Monday, July 18th, 2011

The growing buzz around social media is making  jumping on the social bandwagon “de rigueur” for more and more nonprofit organizations. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most are embracing social media without really understanding how it  works, how it can help them meet their goals, and more often than not, without a real plan. 

Nonprofits that turn to social media to keep up with the Joneses but without a clear sense of direction or purpose, will likely fail.

Social media engagement is not like a switch that can be turned on and off at will.  Online relations need to be developed and nurtured over time and organizations that want to take advantage of these powerful new tools must be prepared to invest in listening, participation and genuine conversation. A good place for them to start is by distinguishing between their tactical and strategic objectives and opportunities.   

At a tactical level, social media platforms and social media engagement can be particularly helpful in facilitating consistent and targeted contact and engagement with an organization’s key audiences.

Twitter for example, can be used to start conversations and carve out relations with influential reporters or politicians.   

In addition to using Twitter to engage with important external audiences (mainstream media, political influencers, potential third-party supporters), organizations can use social media to connect and engage their membership, the sector they represent and the general population.

One low-cost way to do this is to create a Facebook Page around an issue of concern to the sector the organization represents  and around which an online community of interest already exists.  An example of this is the Facebook page created by InterChange Public Affairs to support FCM’s campaign to increase the number of women in municipal government.   

This tactic can be used to support efforts to mobilize an organization’s members, its sector and public opinion in the run-up to a key legislative vote, policy announcement, election or simply to raise awareness around a particular cause.

It is important however that organizations not fall into the social media “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” trap. A platform does not a social media campaign make.

Scoping out whether a community of interest around an issue or issues exists, its scope, level of engagement and top influencers are all critical first steps before undertaking any kind of social media campaign. This is particularly true if the campaign is designed for short term tactical impact.  

Absent an existing and broad-based conversation around an issue it can be very difficult to mobilize sufficient numbers to create political room for an issue. In fact, a social media campaign that sputters can have the opposite effect and serve only to demonstrate the absence of interest and support for an issue.

In the absence of a well-established online community or ongoing online conversations around an issue, a social media platform like Facebook can still be used to initiate engagement, amplify messaging and build a network, but its use should not be positioned or branded as a social media campaign.

Listening should be step one for any organization contemplating social media engagement.

Unlike full blown social media engagement where an organization openly and transparently shares information, responds to comments and queries, and actually becomes part of a community, listening is the first—but essential–step in successful social media engagement. 

As a general principle of social engagement, listening uncovers the nature of the conversations within a particular community. Just as you would not arrive at a cocktail party unannounced and attempt to monopolize the conversation, listening within a social media network allows you to determine your comfort zone and ease into conversations.

Whether it’s from a business perspective, a public institution, or that of a nonprofit advocacy association,  listening allows organizations to determine who the thought leaders are in a given community and what it is that makes them most relevant. Listening allows organizations to determine what content is most relevant and why. And most important, listening allows them to hear what people are saying about them, their brand or their issues.

Listening is easy and there are a number of tools available, from simple online search tools to advanced brand and reputation management platforms.

More strategically, social media can be used to expand and diversify an organization’s communication reach. In the short run, it can be used to grow its network by identifying like-minded influencers and encouraging conversations. In addition to expanding an organization’s network, this will amplify its message by promoting the sharing of content on multiple platforms.  

In the longer term, social media has the potential to fundamentally transform how organizations view and conduct advocacy, engage their members and staff, raise funds and develop policies.   

While tactical social media engagement is largely transactional and focused on achieving short term objectives, strategic engagement is based on a vision of emerging technologies as enabling transformative change.

From an organizational perspective, strategic social media engagement needs to rest on four things: a corporate vision of technology that embraces and facilitates change, the resources to implement it, a sound understanding of the dynamics of social media engagement and a well-established social network.