Corporate Social Media

The amount of advice on introducing Social Media into your corporation has been on the rise lately. Jeremiah has been spewing posts of wisdom for some time now, but lately I have started to see other posts like this one at Web Worker Daily putting out nuggets of knowledge for anyone interested in getting their company connected to the community. Overall the advice makes sense and is generally good…..

One thing a lot of these posts forget to talk about is the perseverance that is actually required to make anything like this happen. For a lot of companies, the corporate culture or business model doesn’t lend itself to joining the wave of social media. These companies have strong feelings about using other methods of communication (or purposeful lack of communication) to connect with their customers. This isn’t necessarily bad; however, it is something that corporations need to consider.

Of course there are the people who desperately want social media…. and those that DON’T want it….”period”. Before the two of them go head to head, or some lame replacement for a quality social media platform is deployed, those that are considering it should take a few simple steps.

  1. Think about the purpose – What is the purpose of the social media platform you want in your organization? What problems are you trying to solve? Who is the audience that you are catering to? Throwing a video blog platform up when no one in your organization cares about video will not do you much good.
  2. How will it be discovered/accessed – Is all of your internal audience at a corporate headquarters? Is all of your internal audience in the field? Maybe both? How will these groups of people discover the new platform (email announcement, link on corporate portal, word of mouth). How will your audiences access the new platform? Through the intranet, VPN, secured website, etc?
  3. Get input from others – perhaps on a wiki, an email group, or an in-person meeting. You need to gather input from supporters early on. This can be from around the company or just within your group/organization. The more people on board at an earlier stage the better chance of success. The moment you start to sway and cater to an exclusive audience or make the barrier to entry really high, the overall quality and user satisfaction of your platform will decline. Once your list of features is looking reasonble, then you can move into the social media product evaluation stage.
  4. What Processes are needed – When someone wants to create a new internal blog, an external blog, a wiki, etc, etc, etc. How will the start? Who will approve – OR – will no one approve? Do new users need to accept a set of ‘use rules’ or did some previous internet use acceptance policy cover anything they may use this platform for? Will training be required? Be careful with the training one –  teaching people how to blog is like teaching people how to have a conversation with a friend or co-worker…. EVERYONE DOES IT DIFFERENTLY – sure there are tips on how to read comments or when to find the time, etc, etc. The value of blogging is that the conversation is coming from real people in your organization and not a trained PR drone. That said, adding a ‘Speaking to the press’ or ‘Media relations’ class to your corporate training offerings yet not requiring bloggers to take the class would enable individuals who are more nervous or concerned about what they are allowed to say get some advice.
  5. What infrastructure support is needed – What kind of server infrastructure will really be needed to have a scalable platform? A couple servers under your desk? A spare desktop class server under the resident blog guru’s desk? Ideally it will start that way, out of the IT departments grip; however, once you have that early buy in and a plan for where you are going with it, IT needs to be on board with who and where the platform runs. This is a key component and I know a lot of the Marketing types disagree with me here (perhaps my IT department background is getting in the way) – IT needs to be on board so that integration with the rest of the infrastructure can happen. Even if the Social Media Platform is not managed by IT, integration is important! How will the new social media platform integrate with things like the corporate public CMS system (will it just be linked or will it replace), the email system, or various skunk-works sharepoint sites? If they are not integrated, discovery and consistency go way down as will adoption within the company. Ideally users will see a reference to the Social Media Platform from the internal corporate portal. From there they can gain access to use the platform.

2 Responses to “Corporate Social Media”

  1. Andy Lopata Says:

    There has been a great deal of reluctance among many corporates in the UK to join the social media bandwagon. A lot of that still exists, much based around worries of the associated reputational risk, but a certain level of curiosity is now being raised. One market research firm is looking into social media on behalf of five major firms.

    Your point 4, about process needed, is the key one to satisfy a lot of big players. They want to have clear guidelines about how people can interact online without damaging the firm, but it is vital that they realise that, short of blogging centrally agreed ‘press releases’ they are going to have to trust their staff.

    Ultimately, the firms with the highest levels of trust in their employees will be the ones to embrace social networks effectively.

  2. Jeremiah Owyang Says:

    I love to spew! You’re buildling some great content for your camp to learn from, keep it up


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