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ODS Recap: A Roadmap for Success with Social Media and Community

November 1, 2009

On September 30, 2009 I had the opportunity to speak at InfoTrend’s Office Document Strategy (ODS) Conference at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel in Boston, MA.  I was invited to speak by @annevelaitis at Infotrends and was asked to speak on the topic of “Emerging Technologies”.   Given the audience and the evolving need to understand the role of social media and community in the enterprise I choose to outline a strategy for utilizing social media and community in the enterprise.  I entitled the session “A Roadmap for Success with Social Media & Community for Business”.   I’ve included my slides below:

I outlined four steps for achieving a successful social strategy for the enterprise, as well as outlined some practical, actionable things folks in the audience could do to get going.  I wanted to do the latter because I wanted more than anything else for my presentation to be actionable, and something that folks felt that they could start moving forward with (based on the audience feedback, I think this was the case).  I won’t recap the presentation here, but there are the four steps I outlined for a successful social strategy for the enterprise:

  • Build a strategy– This is the most difficult part for most organizations, but also the most critical.  Everything else flows from the strategy.  Four basic questions should be addressed:  1) What are your goals? (Think of this in terms of what business problems you are trying to solve– is it better market research, improved product innovation, better customer support, or another goal?).  A good place to start is making sure these goals are aligned with overall corporate strategy and goals.  2) What are the roles that you need to have (or what will your social media team look like)?  I covered this in some detail in my previous post on the need for a social media galvanizer.  Having clear ownership and the right skill set is key.  Lack of ownership is major reasons most social strategies fail.   3) What are the polices and procedures you need to have in place?  Social technologies can have quite a disruptive effect within the organization– both good and bad, and it’s important to have policies and procedures in place so all those who participate understand what is appropriate social behavior and what is not.  This may seem obvious, but the behavior we use before sending an email is not the same we’d use in sending a tweet for instance.  4) How do you go about attracting followers and building membership?  Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just ‘building it and they will come’– you need to think about who the target audience is,what competition you have out there in attracting them and what strategies you will use in attracting your target audience.
  • Map your strategy to social media applications and technology. There is myriad of technology out there to choose from– blogs, forums, Q&A apps, tagging, recr strategy to social media applications & technology, recognition & rewards, Twitter, Facebook, wikis, chat, online video– just to name a few– but how to you know which to utilize?  The type of technology and applications you use will depend upon the type of community you want to set up and the profile of the members within the community (what type of apps do they prefer?).  Mapping out the capabilities you’re looking for, then figuring out how you will make it a reality is a very involved process (vendor selection, integration, on-going maintenance, etc.).  You will also want to think about whether you want to build it yourself or use a vendor-offered solution (or open source).
  • Develop a community management  plan- A solid community management plan will determine the ultimate success of your social strategy.  Community management will help drive adoption and sustain it in the long run.   Poor community management– not technology– is perhaps the #1 reason why companies fail with social media and community.  There are three main things to think about in developing a community management plan: 1) the role of the community manager- this person will be the day-to-day driver of the community.  Among other things, he or she will engage, empower and respond to members, including mediating issues, and serve as the overall leader for the community.  This is an emerging role for organizations and lots is written on the topic.  Mashable does a good job outlining the 5 Essential Traits of  a Community Manager and Angela Connor provides a practitioner’s view.  2)  content programming & engagement- Content drives conversation, which is what social media and community is all about.  Having solid, well-thought out content that engages is paramount.  It is also extremely difficult.  You’ll need to think about who will write the content, how they will package it and when it will be delivered.  The community manager is someone who can help drive the content programming.  3) Moderation plan- You need to think about whether you will want to moderate the community or not.  If you do decide to moderate, what type of moderation would you pursue– pre-moderation, post-moderation, reactive moderation or distributed moderation?  Finally, who will play the role of moderator– will it be someone internal, external/outsourced or a combination thereof?  Will it be the same person as the community manager?
  • Measure & optimize– Having clear metrics for success and being able to measure it so that you can understand the effectiveness of your efforts and adjust accordingly is key.  There’s a lot being written & discussed on this topic today.  Maddie Grant captures some of what’s been written in her post 6 Must Read Posts About the ROI of Social Media.  Two things to keep in mind about measuring & optimizing: 1) there are lots of vendors out there that can help automate the process, so avoid doing it manually.  2) include the social media and community metrics as part of your overall marketing metrics and means of measuring corporate strategy efforts.  Most organizations today have core measurements they use to measure marketing effectiveness– social media and community should be viewed as part of this, as well as tied back to the overall corporate objectives.

Certainly, we could have spent hours on any of the above steps (not to mention the practical recommendations for getting started), but I think the value I (hopefully) helped provide was a jump-start for those in the audience who were looking to get going with a social strategy in their organization.

Thanks again for ODS for the opportunity.

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