Social Media Upgrade [Social Business Team Building]

Social Media Upgrade [Social Business Team Building] case1[Updated] The Social Media Upgrade applies to most consumer-oriented brands that have been outsourcing much of their social media work to agencies. In 2013, digital marketing and brand executives are thinking about building their internal teams to provide more continuity and scale.

Social Media Upgrade is the first of the five-part social business team building series The series describes team building in the context of various scenarios in which firms build social business capability, step by step, while investing wisely. Social Business Strategy Use Cases outlines and compares all five use cases while Social Business Team Building gives general guidance for how to create social business teams as well as recommendations for what characteristics leaders have, so I recommend reading them, too.

Prepare to Build a Social Business Team

Social Media Upgrade Social Business Team Building: prepareMany consumer-oriented brands have experimented with tactical social media projects for several years, and some have had their “wins” publicized in marketing or social media publications. The main risk here is that the organization is approaching “social” as marketing, not developing real relationship skills, and the market will reject promo-oriented firms when others start relating better. Today there is probably no competitor that’s relating-not-marketing, but in the next 2-4 years, some brands will begin getting it right, and stakeholders will flock to them and engage at an unprecedented level. You know you are here when:

  • Most interactions are outbound and promotional because these brands use social media as another channel for content.
  • Social media has has a growing budget for several years and has a cloud of agencies servicing it.
  • Messaging is oriented to products and services, not user use cases. The brand asks few questions or invites few discussions.
  • Social media “operations” are agency-led, and the brand has a relatively small internal team.
  • The metrics used are social media metrics that are focused on brand mentions and other “appearance” numbers; they are not oriented to user outcomes.
  • Most brands have had a director of social media for 1-2 years, but they increasingly feel s/he doesn’t have the strategic management skills to build the kind of team to take social business to the next level.

Relating takes practice and time, online or off, so falling behind in the relationship race is a significant risk.

  • Social Media Upgrade Social Business Team BuildingThis is the most difficult scenario to manage because growing beyond it means changing a philosophy that’s validated by the vocal social media industry and other marketers and conventional wisdom.
  • By no means do I intend to overlook the marketing and PR value that tactical social media can generate. In most cases, you should keep it going while you develop an alternative vision for what relating at scale would look like for your brand.
  • If possible, don’t hire someone or build a team until you understand how to relate to stakeholders (this is the “upgrade,” BTW). Instead, develop a social business strategy that specifies how you can relate to people who matter. It is not a marketing or social media strategy. You have a brand or business strategy, but ask yourself what stakeholders, should you build better relationships with them, could help you execute it? How are you meaningful to them, what kinds of personal or professional outcomes can they achieve by using your products or services?
  • Stakeholder (user) outcomes are the key to being relevant; when you are relevant stakeholders want to relate to you. Most social media today lacks the outcome focus, so its relationships tend to be relatively circumstantial and shallow. You can take them to the next level by focusing on user results, not your products or services. This will align you with users and make you more money.
  • The strategy will also give you a clear vision for what “relating” looks like. Make sure to involve people in your firm who have [offline] rich interactions with stakeholders to help you develop a vision for what the most fruitful relationships are. Then you can develop some pilots to test it out and begin your learning process.
  • Once you have developed a relating-focused approach, you will be in the position to reevaluate your current social media initiatives and approaches. Then you’ll know what kind of team you need to build.

How to Build a Social Business Team

  • Social Media Upgrade Social Business Team Building: buildThe best teams are developed iteratively, while doing social business pilots. Most firms, if they structure pilots’ roles right, can staff them with existing employees; they need not hire right away. If you need to hire, contract while you do pilots. Don’t contract through your marketing agency in most cases because their core competency is creating and delivering content, not relating to individual users.
  • There is a huge difference between relating and promoting, so don’t automatically staff social business pilots from marketing or PR either. When evaluating staff, look at their track records for interaction and their desire to help people with complex issues. Insist on seeing this online.
  • Choose a social business leader who has as many of these characteristics as possible.
  • Depending on your social business strategy, you may not need an executive right away. The CMO/digital executive could hire a more junior person to run pilots and develop people. If you choose this path, a director or manager should have most of the above characteristics, minus the executive skills.
  • I do not advise outsourcing your firm’s social business interactions long-term, but using external resources can be useful for short periods.

Good Practices & Pitfalls

  • I cannot overestimate the importance of relating over marketing in all firms. The focus of relating is users while marketing’s focus is the brand, the product. This is a profound mind shift for virtually every brand and firm, especially consumer-oriented brands which sell kagillions of mass produced products to demographics. The firms that get the shift first will change the game because they will be head and shoulders more relevant.
  • Plan to encounter some resistance from your team, contractors and agencies. Pilots are important because they are relatively small, quick investments that aim to test the strategy and generate real data to show results. This will help with the mind shift.
  • Humans are hooked on relating. That not only means stakeholders, but your team. Once they learn to focus on users, they will be happier after the mind shift takes place. Relating gives people meaning.
  • When you interact with the few, you influence the many. Most executives don’t understand how the network effect makes relating ultra-efficient. More on this in Network v. Mass Communication.
  • The process of creating a robust strategy and running several pilots need not take more than several weeks. Depending on the skill of your consultant or in-house talent, a robust strategy should take 4-6 weeks, and pilots are typically 6-10 weeks each. Of course, pilots may be run concurrently.
  • I recommend doing strategy in two stages: the first, the Ecosystem Audit, is externally focused. Be careful here; social media monitoring platforms are very immature and not focused on user outcomes (even though they have pretty charts), so this goes far beyond a few Radian6 reports. For best results, identify the optimal social venues in which to interact; I define this as your doing less talking in favor of facilitating others’ conversations. Interacting in these venues increase your efficiency, performance and ROI.
  • The second stage is something few brands or consultancies do. The Organization Audit is internally focused. Now that you have a clear picture of what your social ecosystem looks like, what key stakeholders value and what outcomes they pursue, you then evaluate your firm’s knowledge and capabilities in terms of stakeholder outcomes. You optimize what you share based on your core competency and ability to deliver.
  • The social business strategy suggests pilots that perform at a different level.

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