With the responsibility of procuring the right toolkit for managing the consultancy wing at work, I was recently thrown into the ever increasing cauldron of social media management and monitoring tools. Excited, at the prospect of fiddling around with new technologies and calling up some old connections, I started wondering how much of a problem this must be for most organizations as they are grappling with new platforms in Social Media everyday.
I recently came across an interesting paper from Forrester about Social Media Maturity of organizations. In principle, I think this has to be one of the best attempts in developing a framework for understanding the life cycle and evolution of a brand’s social organization. Scale is usually not the basis of selection (from the procurer’s end), especially since this is something most social technologies have in their consideration , but it is the page management, campaign deployment and insight generation (and pricing, of course) that sets some platforms apart from the others
The following is an attempt to simplify the selection process and provide a ‘thought framework’ which could help you to identify your partner social technologies and why some networks are more important to you, depending on your evolutionary trail. As an aside, I was watching an interesting TED talk about how all organizations are destined to die (and how cities survive) …which throws up interesting facts about the need for continuous innovation for organizations.
On a less morbid note, lets try and stitch together why is understanding the social maturity of an organization important to selecting the right ‘war chest’ for your battle.
Dont bring a knife to a gun fight
The choice of channels and tools will depend on your competitive positioning, your industry and the life-stage you are in as an organization.
I shall cite two examples in my post – two very different types of organizations. We’ll be looking at
British Petroleum and the second a fictional technology start-up. A very basic strategic analysis will reveal that the companies are in polar opposite spaces. (BP is in a stalemate and the Tech start up in a specialised position – although this could effectively be fragmented as well)
In line with this, the strategic needs of the organizations are also going to be different.
In summary, BP could be said to be in the following state
- Few number of competitors
- High barriers to entry
- Threats from a growing environmentally aware community
- Image problems with the recent oil spill
So how does this look from a social media point of view – i.e., what would I consider to be the most important functions for BP to perform on social channels?
To demonstrate this, I shall be using an underlying framework that was published by Booz & Co in their report, and highlight how this framework would look for BP
So here’s the rationale for the toolkit and channels –
- With emerging trends of citizen journalism and twitter playing an increasingly important role in getting real time information and public opinion out, political upheavals and corporate catastrophes like the BP oil spill are going to be spoken about regardless of whether you are ‘officially’ on social or not. period. To manage ‘sentiment’ – Radian 6 is supposed to have the widest range of curating comments.
- Syncapse allows multi page and multi language page management. This is bound to be a useful feature for every country in which BP is present. Something of the scale of BP’s oil spill, of course, spread to other countries. This would likely provide a strong enabler for a crisis communications framework.
- Corporate social responsibility would also be high on BP’s radar. Over a period of time, BP would have to renew faith in the consumer that they are a environmentally responsible organization and the best way to showcase this would through videos about causes they have been supporting.
Powering innovation through social media and new media tools
Our fictional tech start up however, has a different set of issues to address. It has come up with a great idea that could have a lot of traction. Lets say they are 6 months into the development of the product and about a week back, they really figured out what they were looking for. However, they need more proof that this could work.
I’ve tried to provide an indicative view of what it might look like for this organization over a period of time. Early stage development would have certain strategic priorities on particular channels and post launch, other channels would gain more importance and a different set of tools would be required to manage these.
4-5 months down the line however, things would be looking very different for the start up. The firm would have developed a minimum viable product (and a great presentation by the instagram guys on this) and would be looking for wider feedback that they could harness to develop as features for their core product.
After an initial proof of concept is in place, it is also likely that they would want to partner with other ecosystem technologies to maximize their reach to consumers in the social web. Instead of lead generation, the next phase would really emphasise the growth of the brand and raise awareness about the product. Often during this phase it is important to get wider community feedback regarding the product to ensure that the users are having a good experience and this is the acid test as the product moves beyond a community bias (sometimes likely in a beta-tested environment).
Find your HEROes
Forrester calls them Hight Empowered Resourceful Operatives. And quite rightly so – that’s exactly the kind of resources you need to drive your social organisation. What social media introduced into the marketing funnel is the dimension of advocacy, and this, as a result, throws the focus back on the people dimension for success of social media programs.
In essence, to drive the success of your social program, it is perhaps not enough to evaluate just People Process and Technology. Senior stakeholders need to have what Forrester calls a POST approach. Namely, People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology.
The fact is that your social channels are very sticky but fluid assets that have a life of their own. The channels also tend to influence each other’s growth and have very different behaviours when they cross the threshold limits. While it is perfectly sane to have certain benchmark KPI’s to set yourself for the channels, it is necessary to visualize how the channels can be optimally used for meeting your strategic objectives.