According to a report by Melcrum, less than one-third of 2,100 corporate communicators surveyed felt confident about using social media as part of an integrated communications plan. Yet, 60% of respondent felt compelled to press ahead with getting started inside their organizations by the end of 2007, without a clear idea of strategy.
Based on real companies' case studies, the report makes some recommendations of issues to consider (bolded). Are those considerations valid for a social media strategy outside the organization as well?
- Assess your organization's cultural readiness. What are the dynamics inside your organization? Does the view at the top look as bright as the view among the rank and file when it comes to being open and communicative? If an organization, pardon the term, is constipated, it might need to decide to go on a different diet before it tries to apply social media anywhere.
- Think about the business purpose of the tools. What are your objectives? Do you wish to inform and educate? Do you need to do a better job at creating a dialogue?
- Be experimental and involve employees. When in doubt, ask. Do it with sincerity and allow people to say no to your face without flinching and without retribution. Think of employees as your customers. Once you open the door to conversations, be really careful that you are a good host. People will become involved only if they want to, you cannot really make them.
- Clarify what employees can and can't do. It's understandable that you'd want to fix some rules of the game. Be very clear and consistent about boundaries in what you're willing to allow at this time. Don't let your credibility and people's trust erode by retrofitting rules.
- Take a hands-off approach to marketing the tools. I like the idea of staying flexible and adapting to the feedback you receive. In fact, the more flexible and willing to take rejection or lack of adoption the better. You will start the conversation with those people -- employees and customers -- whose worldview you are matching. Then you may receive degrees of permission from others in a word of mouth environment.
- Understand the complexities of social media measurement. Remain focused on outcomes. A few great conversations and connections are light years better than dozens of comments and tons of page views. Focus on the story you are crafting about your company and the experience that people -- customers and employees -- have of it.
In the survey, the top perceived benefits for implementing social media tools are improved:
- Employee engagement (71%).
- Internal collaboration (59%).
- Internal community development (51%).
- Two-way dialogue with senior executives (42%).
This in turn may translate into better personal outlook and professional availability in the marketplace, higher knowledge of products and services, greater reliance on a support network when facing difficult market conditions, and a better grasp of the organization’s business goals and our role in achieving them.
Reality check: Is this true? What is your experience?