Monthly Archives: June 2011
This week, I spent some time listening to lawyers, regulatory folks and marketers share their struggles in terms of social media. Knowing the importance, yet not understanding how to overcome the fear and maybe even ignorance. As we polled members in the room of who was listening and monitoring social media, I was shocked at the number of hands not enthusiastically waving in the air. So, if you recognize the need, why haven’t you started?
For some, this world is scary, complicated and overwhelming. As communicators, it’s our job to make it feel fun, free, simple and yes, maybe even easy. But we know better. So, take the fundamentals of what you already know, and apply it to something that feels scary and a little risky. For me, it’s like knowing how to skateboard, and transitioning that to snowboarding.
In terms of community management, let’s take one piece and pair it with something we PR folks know best — the 5 Ws. Since we’ve talked a lot about external communications, I want to focus a little more on internal, employee communications – and how to get the right people in the room, at the right time. Internal buy-off is essential and will set the foundation for your success as a community manager or social media champion.
Who? Who makes up your social media council or advisory board? This is an incredibly difficult question, and it plays to several pieces – getting what you need and playing into the politics of your organization. You’ll struggle with people who want to be involved, because it’s seems fun and shiny, and then you’ll need others who are resistant. As you think about your company’s divisions, be sure to include: corporate communications, PR, marketing, customer service, legal/regulatory, IT, and your advocacy or foundation folks, to name a few. This committee that you are working to create must be collaborative, and the key is that each person must have a willingness to take some level of risk.
What? What can you say and not say, do and not do? I’m a big fan of rules, after all, I was a criminal justice major. This point speaks to the need for guidance, both internally and externally. However, today, it goes beyond that. The trouble with guidance policies is that they can be too broad for those who are implementing content development and distribution, and engagement and relationship-building. Work with your SMAB to create a framework what content requires what path of review or sign-off. Also, outline the timeline for response. Social media is does not work on a 5-10 business day cycle, and if you’re working in that space, you shouldn’t either. You need to distribute the accountability to others, to ensure that it’s the most accurate, while also mitigating risk for your company, and even you.
When? When do you meet? When do you update guidelines? All your guidance policies and framework documents, or guiding parameters, are fluid. They will be updated and they need to be updated. I think a safe bet is a standing meeting with the core team to discuss things that are going well, things that aren’t twice a month. Also, guidance policies need to be updated at least twice a year. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be in frequent communications with the team. Since materials will require internal discussions, it’s likely that you’ll connect with at least 1-2 members of the committee once a week.
Where? Where will your presences be? And, bigger picture – where do you want to go? Have a vision for your engagement, have a purpose. Time and time again I’ve heard a variety of poor reasons to be engaged in social media – it’s free, someone else is doing it, everyone is talking about it. It makes me feel like I’m back in grade school – Lindsey has a new pair of Doc Martens and we find ourselves begging mom to head to the store that night for my very own! Except this time, social media isn’t a fad, and it’s not going away with the newest fashion trend. It’s changing the way we do business and we need to have a vision for what we want to achieve if we are going to succeed.
How? How are you going to achieve this? Social media isn’t free, because it takes resources and that means headcount. If you’re hiring an agency to do your social media engagement, have someone (maybe it’s you) to be the direct voice from the SMAB. Map out an action plan, and start small. It’s okay to start small. There’s no need to go out their guns blazing. Test the waters, see what works and understand that you will make mistakes.
Why? This is the hardest question, and I’ve caught myself asking this in the hardest moments. Why do this at all? Your answer can be, “Because I have to,” but it can’t end there. It’s how you finish that sentence that matters. I know that social media is a commitment, and yes, breaking down silos in your organization is frustrating and it’s hard work. Know your end goal, and know the impact that you’re making. Each person at your table might have their own reasons, but at least 1 of those, needs to be shared.
Does your company have a social media advisory board or something similar? If so, what have you experienced? Any tips?
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a programming committee called Gift of Giving, as part of KC/IABC. The goal of the program is to help 5 non-profits with communications needs and wants. As we surveyed the non-profits what they were looking for in terms of communications support, each one included social media as a topic – what’s the craze, how do I use it, and does it make sense for my organization? Reading their survey responses, it didn’t completely sink in – until I met with an organization this past week to share a social media 101 presentation and if and how social might make sense for them.
Based on those conversations, I wanted share some of the tips I shared in person here on ALook@. If you’re a non-profit or volunteering for one, here are a few tips and tools that might helpful.
1. Identify Your Goals – The first step is to think about what you want to achieve. Are you trying to increase donors? If so, what type of donors are you looking for? Are you trying to increase awareness? If so, with whom? Are you trying to get more volunteers? The most common and frequent thing we hear from all non-profits is “We need more funding.” And as you’re communicating that message, the question I come back to is, “To do what?”
Communicating your message means delving into the heart of an issue, and for some, the issue is so large and has so many legs that it’s difficult to focus on exactly what is needed. For example, if your issue is tackling homelessness, which includes services for education, health, food, emotional support and so much more beyond simply housing – we need to look at the umbrella and the pillars that support that umbrella – then organize that into something that is easy for a general audience to understand.
But before you read further … stop and ask yourself, “Why do I want a [insert social media channel here]?”
2. Define Your Voice – How do you want to be perceived in the community – online and offline? Are you warm and fuzzy? Are you personable and humorous? The importance here is consistency. This is not just about posting content, this is about brand consistency on your website, across social platforms, on video, on newsletters, brochures, mailers, emails and more. Be consistent.
In terms of posting, consistency doesn’t mean only one person posts. It may mean that 2,3,4 people contribute across multiple platforms but the tone should have a common theme.
3. Work with Your Ambassadors and Your Existing Resources – You may have a staff of 3 or 4 people, but you have volunteers and donors who have personal stories about how your cause has touched their lives. Use their stories, use their networks and use their hands and feet. As you get started, call or meet with 20 of your top volunteers and donors and find out how they found out about your organization, and how and why they tell their friends and family about your cause. Then, give them a flip cam or a camera and have them take photos with projects they work on. Have them capture video footage that you can use. Do interviews with them – just 3 questions, 2 minute interviews. It’s quick, it’s shareable, but it’s also personal. You can’t be everywhere – so use what you can.
4. Prepare – As you audit what’s working and what’s not, think about what you need to explore new channels. For example, if you’re exploring social media – it will be critical to create a social media guidance policy. Clearly map out who can and cannot leverage your social outlets, and what they can and cannot say and do. Have a transition plan in place. One of the painful things that can happen is creating a Twitter, YouTube or Facebook account under a board member or volunteer, and then they leave and you have no idea what the password is. Also, create a plan for if/when a crisis occurs – internally or externally. How do you respond if an employee accidentally posts a personal message onto your social presence (Red Cross for example)? Or you receive criticism from the community (like the Smithsonian in 2010)? Be prepared…
5. Start Small – Social media can be overwhelming. Start small and in digestible nuggets. If Twitter is the right place, then create your own handle (personal), and search for topics and people who are of personal interest to you. For example, if you’d like to connect with others in the non-profit world – go to twitter.com, create your own account, search for people to follow who talk about non-profits and click “Follow.” Watch for the first week and see what pops up! Then, start to send your own tweets, send @replies to people who you want to talk to (similar to a public message directly to them) and follow more people!
Other helpful resources:
- Beth Kanter’s Blog
- Non-profits on Facebook Guide
- 10 Common Mistakes Made By Nonprofits on Social Media
- 30 Super Useful Nonprofit Hashtags – Twitter Chats, Too!
- 10 Rules on How Non-Profits Can Use Twitter
Do you have tips for non-profits you’ve worked with? If so, please share!
There’s a lot of discussion about social media monitoring. From Facebook moderation block listing, to Twitter monitoring, to blogs, to community conversations — even the thought of 24/7 monitoring starts to create a rumble in your stomach, your hands turn palmy and for some reason, it’s getting hot in here. After six years of monitoring, I have to say that I’ve learned a few things to make life easier.
Listening is the most important step to engagement, online and offline, but especially for social media. In the advent of emerging tools, it’s easy to get lost in the clutter of monitoring – Radian6, spiral16, and free tools like SocialMention, Google Alerts, and more. There are many great resources, but what about how to? Below I’ve outlined few critical steps to monitoring. I hope these are helpful to you. Happy listening!
Quick Guide to Social Media Monitoring
- Know your industry/area. Regardless if you’re a B-to-B or B-to-C industry/company, listening helps improve your products/services. Know your competitors, know the language your consumers use and know how your competitors interact with consumers?
- Define your goals. What do you hope to get out of this? What’s the purpose? Define the what: what are you looking for? What are your key words? Do you have specific sources? What time will you monitor – hourly, business hours, 24/7? Who will monitor? Always assign back-ups and always have a decision-maker for those situations you’re just not sure about. Establish upfront what are issue statements, what is spam, and what to not include or flag.
- Document. Create a template to document your findings. I usually use an excel grid with specific sections based on platforms with columns to document content. In my master grid (as I call it), you’ll see the name of the source, date, permanent link, description or full text, sentiment (with point value), audience segmentation of the source and sometimes I include tallies for how and if the content pairs up with our objective to capture against ROI in those wonderful reports. Define what makes the most sense for you. And even if you’re using a tool like Radian6, always do an export of the content. Always, always keep back-up.
- Establish a process for issues management, either created through your engagement or outside of your control. Also, watch for trends that occur outside of your direct work. For example, tweeting happy, non-chalant messages during the devastating tornadoes in Joplin, Mo. Just be aware …
- Don’t Stop … Believing. No matter what people say, monitoring is hard. No, machines can’t do everything. And just because it’s not rocket science doesn’t mean it’s not taxing. For those monitoring day-to-day, know that you’re not doing some menial task – that the work you do is foundational to the business. Your insights drive strategy to truly help consumers and the community.
I hope this was helpful! If you have a tip, please share it!