Social Media Strategies


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A guide to creating a strategy for social media

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Social Media Strategies

  1. 1. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   Graham Honeywill Amberbuzz Consulting Oy 12th January 2010 Version 1.0 Background and introduction.......................................................................................2   Why?.......................................................................................................................................3   What is a Social Media Strategy? .................................................................................4   How do you develop and launch such a strategy?................................................5   About Amberbuzz Consulting Oy ................................................................................7   Appendix 1 - Corporate Active Listening checklist tool ....................................8     ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  1  of  10  
  2. 2. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   Background and introduction Social media is a recent phenomenon that is starting to challenge the operating models of many businesses. It provides a simple ubiquitous environment for consumers to share their views and ideas with each other. In doing so it creates an enormous opportunity for business leaders if they are prepared to adapt their internal and external communications framework from “telling” to “active listening”. Examples of opportunities? Example 1 – Brand advocacy – Just imagine how it would be if all your customers were so passionate about their experience with you and your company that they tell all their friends – no, insist to all their friends – that they experience the same. That’s brand advocacy. Social media provide fantastic opportunities for you to encourage, support, monitor and understand your power of brand advocacy. Remember – people will talk anyway, by embracing the opportunity you can become an active participant in the dialogue. Visit to experience how Dell Computers is creating brand advocates from the community. Example 2 – Corporate Active Listening. According to Wikipedia, “Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others. It focuses attention on the speaker. Suspending one’s own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important in order to fully attend to the speaker.” ( The ongoing development of Social Media forces businesses to become “Corporate Active Listeners”, or die. But isn’t that what business is all about anyway? Who wouldn’t want to be part of a business who’s focus was on active listening and responding to the needs of their customers and consumers? Example 3 – Social CRM. Customer Relationship Management – hands up who has NOT tried to implement this over recent years. CRM is often considered to be a system issue (let’s buy a CRM system) or a process issue (let’s develop a CRM process – and then buy a CRM system). However, according to Wikipedia, “Many initiatives often fail because implementation was limited to software installation, without providing the context, support and understanding for employees to learn, and take full advantage of the information systems.[2]” ( The processes and systems needed for effective CRM can only work if they are firmly embedded into the values of the company, visible in the daily workings of the company. By embracing Social Media, your business is well placed to deploy a successful CRM model by providing the “petri dish” for an effective CRM culture to develop and flourish. ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  2  of  10  
  3. 3. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   This document outlines your considerations in developing a strategy to manage and lead development and use of social media, both internally, within the organisation, and externally between your organisation and your customers and partners. Why? Here are eleven scenarios that might apply to you. 1. You need to build the base for social networking within an organisation, between organisations, and between all stakeholders and advocates of an organisation’s brand (employees and consumers, customers and suppliers). 2. You want to integrate social media as part of your overall digital channel strategy, on the internet, on the intranet, on extranets with your business partners, using social media sites to improve “reach” and help drive traffic to your web sites. 3. You’re trying to establish the basic social media framework within an organisation, supporting knowledge management initiatives and projects. 4. You want to develop various forms of brand engagement, internally and externally building a framework for brand advocacy to improve brand value. 5. You want to develop your internal values through an open dialogue and simplified “many-to-many” communications model in the company 6. You want to finally solve that annoying customer CRM problem and recognise that the solution to CRM is not a process issue but a social networking issue. 7. You want to improve your network of strategic vendors and recognise the value of social networking as the basis for collaboration – especially regarding R&D partners. 8. You want to manage what other people are saying about you and your company in social media. 9. You want to introduce thought leadership and storytelling to your online content mix and recognise the value of social media to build thought leaders and find stories. 10. You need to increase the visibility and effectiveness of your organisation’s services and recognise the importance of digital communities in this – allowing consumers to help each other (while you learn from their dialogue). 11. You need to develop a platform architecture for your organisation that will integrate content management, document management, knowledge management, search & metadata management and identity management and support the above scenarios. As you can see from these scenarios, the complexity in building a social media strategy lies in the multiple perspectives that you need to consider. If you want to build an effective strategy, one that will last you for 2-3 years into the future, you need to at least evaluate all of the above situations, identify and engage those individuals within your organisation who are lying awake at night thinking about these issues. ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  3  of  10  
  4. 4. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   To make life even more difficult, as soon as you start thinking about social media you will find yourself facing several complex issues that drive to the heart of your business model: Competitors vs collaborators – what is the acceptable balance between the open sharing of information and ideas, and protecting the intellectual property and proprietary thinking of the company? Effective social media changes the balance between openness/trust and security/secrecy – for this reason it needs to be carefully planned. Business vs the individual – where is the dividing line between an individual’s own identity and views, and those of the organisation that she represents? In the real world there is an implicit distinction between the individual and their organisation, and we are somehow “wired” to recognise this distinction, with the corporate values as a guide. In the digital world this “wiring” needs to be reconsidered and the corporate values possibly reassessed. Hierarchy vs network – Do you work a hierarchical organisational structure? One where you need permission from your boss before talking with his boss? Naturally, social media forces a level democracy into any organisation. This is not to say that hierarchical management structures disappear but rather to say that communications become somehow more exciting, clearer and simpler – flatter. The “Corporate Active Listening” checklist can be used as a starting point for this – to help you answer the question “why?” What is a Social Media Strategy?   An effective social media strategy contains three broad components: 1. A description of the current state - what already exists that can be leveraged? Here you need to consider a range of topics including: • Corporate desire and intent – gather and analyze the existing corporate strategy, relationship marketing strategy, service strategies, brand strategy, knowledge management strategy, communications‘ strategy, enterprise architecture. • Individual desire and maturity – surveys and interviews to establish what people might already be doing or what they would expect and need to be doing – using the “perspectives” in this document as a guide – to assess the social networking maturity of the organization or target group. • Customer and partner expectations – surveys and interviews – with the customers/partners and with their internal relationship owners, the sales and R&D teams – to define the maturity of the market, identify development opportunities that might exist and social media activities already underway that you can leverage. ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  4  of  10  
  5. 5. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   • Current web site traffic sources – analysis of web site KPIs to identify how effectively social medial is delivering traffic to your web site. • Current operating model – the processes and capabilities already in place to manage and leverage social media. 2. Your target state, a “Digital strategic intent”,a clear set of objectives for the use of social media, internally and externally, integrated with the web channels. The target state must include: • Business intent – what aspects of the business strategy will be realized through internal or external social media • The community itself – how it will operate to deliver the business intent • The community audiences; why they will participate; their motives or expectations, the scenarios that describe their tasks and journeys • The content and capabilities needed to support this as a digital community • Integration with the brand and corporate values – the tone of voice for content and moderation activities • The moderation and security enablers that will be implemented as elements of the operating model • The integration points across channels - how the community will integrate with the web – to drive traffic – and the offline channels at events etc • The processes and platform capabilities needed to support this strategy. • KPIs – what success looks like to bring the business case to life 3. The roadmap and next steps to deliver the strategic intent, projects by period for the next 2/3 years: • social media developments online on the internet or intranet, • content strategy to support engagement and integrate with existing content plans, • KPI development including optimisation development • Communications plan (change management plan) • Risk and mitigation plan • Immediate next steps and quick wins • Budget plan How do you develop and launch such a strategy?   The key to building such a strategy is effective engagement with the primary stakeholders, building on what already exists to create an objective and actionable plan that reflects the ideas and needs of the business. The overall process can be seen in 4 phases: Current state · Identify and interview key target group areas (knowledge management, marketing comms, services, sales development, internal and external communications, R&D ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  5  of  10  
  6. 6. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   development, online team, corporate security team) to discover existing plans and objectives that can be supported by social media activities. · Research how your brand and brand keywords are being reflected in social media (blogs, groups, issues). · Research competitor and best in class social media. · Conduct internal operating model review (SWOT analysis) · Analysis of web metrics with specific focus on “reach” metrics (sources of traffic to the web sites) and “nurture” metrics (returning visitors) · Internal survey to establish current social media awareness and involvement level · Desk evaluation of business, marketing, communications, internet, IT, brand strategies and plans (Deliverable – current state analysis and baseline) Vision and target state · Explore conflicts (hierarchy/network; collaborate/secrecy; business/individual) · Identify high level personas and communications scenarios · Develop vision, “active communications” plan (“straw model”, review process) · Establish metrics, targets and business case (Deliverable – target state, personas and scenarios, high level business case and KPI framework) Roadmap development and execution planning · Roadmap plan · KPI targets by period · Social media operating model (core/context analysis) · Enterprise architecture high level requirements (Deliverable – roadmap, immediate next steps, possibly also next project scope) Launching the strategy (building your digital community)   · Review the current behaviour and motives of the personas and the channels they currently use, and build scenarios to integrate the content of the new community into user “journeys” (reach, engage, activate, nurture) · Build a dynamic (co-created) content strategy – focus on the personas and scenarios from the previous step, (the target community) to identify what they want to ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  6  of  10  
  7. 7. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   experience, and balance this with what you want to share and facilitate, using your brand strategy, corporate security strategy, corporate values and existing web content strategy and plan as your guidelines. · Design the experience you plan to offer to your community, integrating existing social media (eg: facebook, twitter) and existing corporate web sites with the scenarios developed in the previous step. · Configure and/or build the tools and processes (registration, monitoring, back end processes, brand, tracking, content planning and creation, translation). · Plan and execute cross channel activities to seed awareness and interest. Launch and run the community   Each of these steps needs to be carefully planned and can vary from a simple desk exercise of a few days to a project of several weeks, depending on the scope, complexity and current state of material available. About Amberbuzz Consulting Oy I am a small, independent consultant, based in Helsinki, Finland. I specialise in Digital Channel Strategy development and execution activities including the activities described above. I have two primary modes of operations: 1. I will work directly with you and your company to provide independent and objective strategic services, tailored to your specific needs 2. I will work through Digital Media Agencies, either our own or as selected by our clients, to augment the agency skills with the necessary consulting (strategic and facilitation capabilities). For more information please contact me, Graham Honeywill at ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  7  of  10  
  8. 8. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   Appendix 1 - Corporate Active Listening checklist tool   How  effective  is  your  “Corporate  Active  Listening”?     Corporate  Active  Listening    -­‐  your  ability  to  integrate  your  business  into  Social  Media  and   the  “buzz  “  of  the  internet.     Get  it  right  and  you  can  “strike  gold”  with  improved  brand  advocacy,  closer  consumer   dialogue,  effective  customer  processes,  increased  customer  and  consumer  satisfaction  –   all  impacting  the  bottom  line  of  your  business.     Get  it  wrong  and,  well,  you  have  problems  –  what  are  your  customers  saying  to  each  other   about  you?  How  is  your  competition  able  to  bring  better  products  and  services  to  market?     But  how  to  assess  yourselves  and  your  marketplace?  Well,  here  is  a  simple  checklist  you   can  use  to  start  the  process  –  to  conduct  an  initial  evaluation  to  your  effectiveness  in   Social  Media  use  –  how  well  you  listen!     1. Public  Social  Media  evaluation:     This  first  set  of  questions  is  to  do  with  your  external  presence  –  how  you  integrate  and   deal  with  the  external  social  media  world.     Question   Risk  and  opportunity   Do  you  have  a  process  in  place  to   Risk  is  that  your  brand  is  under  threat   monitor  social  media  for  key  issues   from  destructive  blogging  activity  and   impacting  your  business?   you  don’t  know  until  damage  is  done.   Several  tools  and  services  are  available   to  help  you  monitor  these  dialogues   and  you  need  someone  in  your   organisation  who  can  use  these  tools   and  who  is  empowered  to  act  if  needed   Do  you  integrate  social  media  into   Opportunity  is  to  build  a  brand   other  marketing  channel  activities?   advocacy  network  across  social  media,   which  can  then  form  the  glue  between   channels  and  between  campaign   activity   Effective  use  of  Wikipedia  for  thought   Opportunity  to  use  wiki  entries  as  a   leadership   form  of  thought  leadership,  unbranded   but  ensuring  your  voice  and  point  of   view.   Risk  is  that  your  a  wiki  entry  can  be   placed  under  threat  of  attack   Evidence  of  cross  linking  from  social   Opportunity  to  use  social  media  as  a   media  to  site   source  of  qualified  site  traffic  –   ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  8  of  10  
  9. 9. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   especially  useful  in  B2C  environment   Social  media  promoted  on  main  site   Opportunity  to  provide  richer   experience  for  the  visitor  by  extending   the  capability  to  social  media  in   addition  to  onsite  content  and   capability   Evidence  and  effectiveness  of   Opportunity  to  show  prospects  some   corporate  external  discussion  forum     part  of  how  they  can  engage  if  they   become  customers       2. Social  media  as  an  internal  (Value  chain)  dialogue  tool.     This  set  of  questions  concerns  your  internal  social  media  capabilities  –  how  you  utilise   social  media  tools  and  capabilities  internally  and  across  the  value  chain  of  customers,   partners,  suppliers.     Question   Risk  and  opportunity   How  is  the  corporate  phone  book   Intranet  and  internal  social  media  need   utilised  as  a/the  hub  for  social  media   to  integrate  –  and  the  most  frequent   within  the  organisation?   and  most  valuable  resource  on  your   intranet  is  your  phone  book  –   connecting  people.  By  integrating   internal  social  media  to  the  phone   book  you  create  a  holistic  information   resource  for  your  network.   How  effectively  is  social  media  used  as   Social  media  and  CRM  share  the  same   the  basis  for  an  effective  sales   audience  and  focus.     engagement  with  your  customers  and   Opportunity  to  use  social  media  to   prospects?   connect  internal  sales  teams  with   customer’s  contacts,  influencers  and   decision  makers   How  effectively  does  social  media   Opportunity  to  engage  resellers  with   integrate  your  resellers’  business  into   your  brand  so  that  this  advocacy  can   your  business   translate  into  stronger  consumer   loyalty   How  effectively  do  your  social  media   Opportunity  to  improve  your  cross-­‐ channels  support  an  extended  process   company  value  chain  processes   model  for  business  partner   through  improved  collaborative   engagement?   capabilities   What  opportunities  are  there  for   Opportunity  such  as  customer  self   service  efficiency  through   help;  service  comments  as  sources  of   collaborative  social  media?   co-­‐created  content  driving  new  sale:   new  service  models  such  as  recycled   equipment  resale  auctions  etc   How  do  you  use  social  media  channels   Opportunities  to  engage  employees  in   within  the  organisation  to  develop  and   brand-­‐related  activities  and  to   ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  9  of  10  
  10. 10. Corporate Active listening - a strategy for social media   support  brand  advocacy?   integrate  brand  and  corporate  values   How  does  social  media  support  your   Opportunity  to  tie  internal  and   community  and  social  responsibility   external  CSR  activities   programmes?   How  well  do  you  utilise  social  media  in   Opportunity  for  internal  team   internal  and  external  team   development  and  for  dynamic  teams   development?   etc   Do  you  have  the  necessary  capabilities   Opportunity  to  support  sharing   in  place  for  knowledge  management   knowledge  –  links  especially  to  phone   practices  and  projects?   book  and  brand/corporate  values   How  effectively  to  you  use  social   Opportunity  for  executive  team  to   media  for  executive  engagement  (for   engage  with  employees   example  executive  blogging)   Do  your  information  security  policies   Risk  of  conflict  here  –  especially   support  and  encourage  effective  social   concerning  IT  implementation  of   media?   corporate  security  policies.  This  needs   to  be  addressed  in  order  for  internal   and  external  programs  to  flourish   How  effectively  do  you  integrate   Opportunity  to  develop  true  thought   internal  and  external  social  media   leadership  from  internal  social  media   channels?   activities  that  can  then  spread  external   What  capabilities  are  provided  for   Opportunities  for  employees  to  start  to   Elective  Push  channels  (for  example   manage  their  own  information  flow   RSS,  podcasts  or  subscribed  email)?   What  opportunities  or  capabilities  are   Opportunities  for  innovative,  low  cost   there  for  virtual  world  concepts  to   environment  for  collaboration  and   support  showcase  or  collaboration?   showcasing     How  to  use  this  tool     Each  question  shown  here  represents  a  risk  and  opportunity,  which  can  be  prioritised  to   form  the  basis  for  a  simple  development  roadmap  and  plan.     Once  you  have  evaluated  your  situation  against  this  checklist,  describe  the  risk  and   opportunity  and  then  set  a  priority:     Priority  1  –  critical  to  the  current  business  plans   Priority  2  –  creates  new  opportunities   Priority  3  –  seems  like  a  good  idea  but  not  critical     This  prioritized  list  can  then  form  the  basis  for  a  social  media  development  project,   establishing  a  Social  Media  Strategy,  or  justifying  a  social  media  monitoring  process  and   tools.       ©Amberbuzz  Consulting           Page  10  of  10