As with any fundamental shift in the manner of communication a brand utilizes, the transition from exploratory to eventual social media enlightenment is a process of adoption. Not completely unlike that a new product in the marketplace goes through.
Initially there are a brazen few, or in the case of companies beginning their journey into social media, typically an individual that gets excited about the new opportunity. They get their organization involved generally in their own silo. They champion this new medium to those around them that they can get to listen. And so begins The Journey.
As the organization's presence in social media changes so does their organizational structure. I believe Jackie Huba's recent post and illustration of the Social Engagement Journey is representative of the tectonic experience organizations find themselves in throughout this process.
Having been involved in this process a few times I've noted some commonalities.
FACTORS IN THE STAGES OF THE SOCIAL PROCESS
It takes an usher. A passionate one.
Someone in the organization has to be the catalyst. They have to be the one to get excited and light the fire. But that's just the beginning. Along the way as the internal movement picks up steam others have to come on board. But there always needs to be an usher, someone to move it forward and grow.
It takes data, and not just data, but numbers that show benefit to the business.
As much as many focus mainly on the "conversation" and "engagement" and "the new frontier" what it really all boils down to is business. Of course all of those elements are still important but we're all still responsible to report to investors, stock holders, employees, customers, vendors, and all other share holders that have an investment. Engagement, the conversation and the new frontier are no less important, but we cannot forget about the bottom line.
In order to get your business invested in a new idea you HAVE to be able to show how it will benefit the business. This benefit can be different for each organization. Sometimes it means meaningful product feedback, sometimes it means reduced cost and improved customer service scores and sometimes if you're really lucky it means increased revenue through sales. Whatever it means to your business, have a plan and expected outcomes. Fortify this plan along the way with data you are collecting. You can only advocate for things you can back and prove!
It takes a champion from above.
Every single person within an organization has the ability, right and some might even argue, the responsibility, to champion a good idea that they believe can transform their business in a positive fashion. At some point however the idea will need a champion from the upper echelon of the company. It will take this high level support to reach the full potential of the organization. In the Ants Eye View model, this would be levels 4 and 5.
Stage 5 is the most intriguing of the model in my mind. Some of the business outcomes are inspiring yes?
I urge you to take a look at this model and figure out where you and your organization stand. What do you need to do to get to the next level - and what are the benefits awaiting you!
In full disclosure, I've recently joined the Ants Eye View team. That said, I am writing about the topic purely because I find it awesome, and not because the team behind it will soon be signing my paychecks. Girl Scout promise.
Kristy Bolsinger is a Senior Associate at PwC in Seattle, WA. She has previously worked at Ant's Eye View (acquired by PwC in 2012), and RealNetworks (GameHouse). Prior to her time at RealNetworks, and Ant's Eye View - Kristy was working as a Social Media Marketing Consultant and completing her MBA at Willamette University. She maintains a social media blog and can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.