Why Are We Doing Social Well?

A client recently asked me what factors I thought contributed to their success in social media.  The answers came to me immediately - it's a client I work closely with, care deeply about and have thought about a lot this year.

As I jotted down my response on my white board [aside: my common practice which might appear to be an unnecessary step to answering an email, but helps me think things out] I realized  these factors are common to every client I work with who has made progress in social media.

What am I missing?  Wold love to add to the list. 

Support from Leadership

We know innovation bubbles up from the bottom; culture cascades from the top.  Without a supportive leadership team, social initiatives will never find the funding and resources needed to have a demonstrable impact. 

What are you doing to secure that support from your leadership? 

Training is one way.  Not [necessarily] training on how to do social, but rather why [i.e. the business impact].

Benchmarking is another.  Show your leaders [not in a the sky is falling way] what the industry best-practices are and how your organization compares.

And finally, listening is so important.  Use the myriad free tools out there to monitor for your brand or issue. Package those mentions and analysis in an executive summary.  Show them the conversation is taking place, and suggest ways you can join it.

Demonstrated Appetite from the Foot Soldiers

If leaders enable, it's the foot soldiers who do [and often innovate].  Without an army of willing social media participants within an organization, it'll be all talk and no action.  And remember, your employees are your greatest advocates!

What can you do to facilitate this behavior?

Training is a no-brainer.  Show people the right way to do things.

Policy is another.  Make the organization's policy clear and concise.  Give people guardrails - they usually find it comforting.

Finally - and I realize this is tough - give your people some freedom to experiment.  Not everything they do in social should be super tight-in on your product, brand or cause.  The more comfortable people are, the more likely they are to do so, and effectively.

Passionate and Knowledgeable Customers

I don't care if your business is cleaning supplies or a professional association, you have to find those customers who are smart on your business, and passionate about what you do [I guess that's what we call a fan these days].  Without passionate and knowledgeable customers speaking on your behalf, you're just talking to yourself.

A Spirit of Cross-Functional Collaboration

Are the right people willing to take the right steps towards collaborating across functions [or geographies or business units]?  Have you formed your center of excellence?  Have you defined a common measurement model?  Have you even talked to each other?  Start.  Today.

Willingness to Take Counsel

I don't have all the answers.  Neither do you.  No one does.  But I can tell you that in every successful case I've seen in social [scaled cases], the client has collaborated with talented external partners.  That doesn't mean off-shoring your social media to an agency.  What it does mean is taking counsel from external partners who have been there before.