The 5 things for organisations to get right for great social media management

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A short while ago, Target Internet’s Ciaran Rogers interviewed me for the Digital Marketing Podcast. We spoke about ‘The 5 things to get straight for great social media management’. You can listen to the podcast here (it’s about 25 minutes long): but I outline below what we discussed for those wanting to read the highlights.

1: Articulate the highest-level objectives for the organisation

The first area is that some organisations do not articulate their highest level objectives clearly enough. This has broader impact; however, poor articulation makes it tough to view objectives through a ‘digital and social media lens’ and achieve great social media management. Many of these organisations adopt a knee-jerk reaction to social media – with senior leaders jumping immediately to wanting to see certain tools and sites used as opposed to stepping back and evaluating how their highest-level organisational objectives can be achieved via digital and social media.

As with any business planning cycle, this articulation should take the format of a clear vision, objectives, goals, strategies, plans and measures – against a backdrop of user, market, competitor and organisational challenges and needs. Once this is articulated, it is then relatively simple to apply what we call a ‘digital and social media lens’ across that and assess what digital and social media can contribute to the organisation.

2: Recognise that digital and social media cuts across an organisation

The second area for great social media management is to appreciate the impact of digital and social media across all functions and departments in an organisation. It is not just for Marketing or Communications departments. Digital and social media can provide real-time insights to help Operations allocate resource, ensure Sales are better informed and can help build a pipeline or be a way to support Investor Relations in its positioning and increase shareholder value. Some industries and organisations have come to the party late here and have seen their complete business model decimated or change.

To achieve this may initially require a digital and social media lead who can illustrate the impact and benefits of digital and social media across the whole organisation – and then ‘e-nable’ that organisation accordingly delivering the day-to-day differences and longer-term impact. The need for this is magnified with the effect of mobile – and with mobile devices becoming many B2C and B2B users primary device at home and work. This should be viewed as an opportunity, especially for marketers to extend their gravitas and influence across the organisation.

3: Resource your digital and social media teams well

There is no right or set answer to what precise level of social media support an organisation needs. However, it does require a change in mindset for many people. For instance, would a major organisation place a junior team-member or an intern in front of the BBC or Sky News TV cameras at primetime when dealing with public messaging? I guess not. So why do so many organisations look to interns or junior staff to ‘speak online’ on their behalf to a far greater audience?

Back in the late 1990’s when businesses were becoming aware of the Internet; many organisations questioned the impact of it and thought that they could escape with minimal resourcing (or just by appointing a ‘webmaster’). Those that did not adequately resource their online functions were quickly left behind – as the Internet became more pervasive and interrupted our existing models of communication and business. I say that all organisations need well-qualified, articulate, commercially-savvy, digital and social media leaders as well as online community managers to help their organisations understand their target audiences and support the delivery of organisation/business objectives focused on what we call the ‘so what’ factor.

Now the change is quicker and brands can be both built and dashed by good or poor social media management. One thing is for sure – and that is that the need for good social media management is going to become greater as we fully embrace this ‘always-on, always-connected, always-aware, always–sharing’ society. So how much resource do you need? Simple: significantly more than you have today and better qualified.

4: Test and learn to understand the potential of social media management

We are not saying you must adopt digital and social media methodologies and plans at the expense of traditional ones. Of course tried and tested methodologies work, but social media provides much that can supplement what we already have and support better, faster decision making. For instance, online listening via social media tools can provide the insights to support and guide product development and resource allocation.

Careful targeting allows for A/B multivariate testing to assess the impact of social media management. The basics of good business management do still and will continue to apply. Having talented resource and online community managers in place will help organisations develop hypotheses, create models and assess the impact of good social media management. Return-on-investment must be a factor in answering the ‘so what’ and articulating to all stakeholders the impact of good digital and social media management.

Many organisations (and people) fall into the trap of looking at ‘vanity stats’ of having many ‘likes’, ‘connections’ or ‘friends’; however, it is essential to have clear objectives and focus on the conversion or the ‘so what’ – be it, for example, advocacy, profitable growth, customer lifetime value, cross sell or retention.

5: Integrate social media plans with existing business building tools

Organisations need to be joined up internally. Many organisations view social media as an add-on to marketing or business building plans. Often it is an after-thought. An interested and engaged community will amplify a message (either positively or negatively). Digital and social media needs to integral to all plans – and not an add-on. Social media can magnify the effects of traditional business building plans and provide greater insight if used correctly.

Overall, with social media we need to be asking the right questions and step back away from the actual tools. Some social media tools and sites may or may not be suited to some business objectives and industries. Applying the ‘digital and social media lens’ across clearly defined and articulated organisational objectives, recognising the impact of digital and social media cross all functions, resourcing well, testing and integrating will all help answer the ‘so what’ question, ensure great social media management and a strong impact.

And so, there you have it – the 5 things to get straight and right for great #socialmedia management.

Written By Dowshan Humzah

Dowshan Humzah has delivered profitable business growth via product development, brand innovation and digital channel expansion for blue-chip companies across Financial Services, Internet, Telecoms, Media and FMCG as well as business start-ups. He shows how organisations can benefit from applying a ‘digital and social media lens’ across their core organisational objectives and then answer the ‘so what’ question in order to generate customer and financial value from digital tools. You can find him on LinkedIn and Google+


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