Thursday, November 12, 2009

Facebook yes, social media no - Social Media sidebar

"We cant approve a social media strategy, but we should be on Facebook."
"No our communications plan doesnt specifically integrate social media, but why dont we have a Twitter account?"

So I have heard statements like this a lot recently.  It seems to be easier to get approval to launch a Facebook page than to get a conversation started about social media as a whole.

My initial ideas around getting social media started were met with questions and resistance.  Everyone would agree it was important and had lots to add.  However nobody is willing to step up and approve something as vague and misunderstood as social media. So we end up asking for approval for something that isnt tangible enough to make a real decision on.

I have seen others have success in a very different approach.  In the background they create a master social media plan and tie it to their communications plan.  But when they seek approval, they talk at a more tactical level that is easier to visualize and quantify. They pick the first tools, participants and campaigns they want to launch. Then they pitch for approval of these trials, not a big approval of a social media strategy.

So all of these big pushes and "experts" that push for a very deliberate big social media strategy are correct that you should have it.  However, maybe the approach shouldnt be to get leadership to approve that strategy.  Rather you should seek approval of your first tactics that are derived from your plan.

Not sure this post is a complete thought and it lacks any flair\images\etc.  But it has been nagging me and I needed to post it in order to get it off my brain. Someone please help me complete this thought.


Anonymous said...

You're not alone. Coming from the guy who introduced his high-level "internet marketing" company to Twitter long before Ashton, I suspected buy-in to a bigger social media plan, including integrating something like Facebook Connect and adding functionality to tweet links to our site's content. Nothing but resistance. Yes, we should start and manage a FB page; no, we don't want to integrate FB connect or RT code on our pages because "they're untested, and may even fail before our company". I was even told that, though we wanted twitterers to share links to our service, the company didn't want to "lose content or traffic" from content itself being shared on Twitter or FB. So nothing happened. I built and grew pages and an account or two, but was disallowed from doing it for the company. I even enacted the original plan, outside the company, to demonstrate the effectiveness for the SMM plan. It became super successful, generating more traffic to my example site than the company's. My efforts were met with silent hostility. Later, the company met failure. Long before either Facebook or Twitter (as the CEO suspected might fail before our brand-new startup).

Believe it. It seems sense doesn't always translate uphill - particularly sense within new technology, environments, cultures, and the strategies built around them. I believe it's because the older leaders of company's (CEOs) tend to learn from their mistakes. The things they learned in past paradigms just don't translate into the culture of digital nativity or the one-to-many almost-no-cost communications systems we utilize today for social media.

Judith Sol-Dyess said...

Steve, I totally understand your point, and after talking to several other orgs myself I also (in retrospect) would have taken the smaller-step tactical approach first. Thinking of it differently, I almost liken this to artists (in our case, staff) and historians (here, management). An artist's work, its potential for resale value and historical impact is almost never acknowledged by historians until, well, the artist is history. Historians (in my opinion) tend to want to play it safe - nothing is generally praised or "worthy of investment" until long after its creation and initial sales, resales. Likewise, management who is otherwise occupied with that they may perceive to be more pressing matters, can easily dismiss this "new" idea of social media until proven successful by many others. Or even within their own org. It would be "safer" to pilot at a small scale and then say, OK, here is what we learned, what worked and what didn't. NOW you can make a decision to expand. I think the strategic plan approach can still intimate managers who think of social media as technology. I have been reading so much about it that I'm frankly sick of hearing about social media now, it's just like potatoes. They are no different than other things I need from the grocery store. Just one more thing to add to the cart, manage, and consume. I think that's good though. I think when social media is more like potatoes than the convertible Bentley, it will be more approachable, consumable, by management. The struggle is still to get the non-tech groups to go shopping, not just the techies. Great post, great opportunity for me to get it off my system too!

Steve Heye said...

Glenn, thanks for the great comments and example. Translation uphill doesnt always work.

Judith, our plan was always to start with a couple small pilots and build up from there. The thing we could have done different is not ask approval for the full plan, just that first step. Hindsight is always better. And yes, I agree as social media becomes more mainstream things will be easier to integrate and get approved because they will be more readily understood and have broader mid-level support.

There has to be others out there with the same struggle, help us finish this convo.

Matt said...

I think the biggest challenge is education. The folks that are "approving" need to understand Social Media. This is hard, as you mentioned Steve, to explain and define, but it's got to start there. SM is defined by one tool, on tactic, one plan. It's huge and the mores sense a CEO can make of SM and it's impacts the more encouraged he/she will be to approve social media policies, plans and marketing objectives. That's why it's awesome that organizations like NTEN exist. But orgs need to get the decisions makers to understand all of this.