Be Social to Drive Social Effectively


Although as business professionals we all understand that putting an implementation horse ahead of a plan and strategy cart is a recipe for disappointment, the reality is that in many organizations this is still what happens.

If you're tasked with figuring out social media in your organization, you need to find out which are the main business pressure points to do something. They could be one or more of the following:

  • your customers and prospects are ahead of your business in using the tools and social networks to find resources, get tips, evaluate products, and even buy things — a shift away you are seeing from search
  • your competitors are there, and in some cases they already clearly dominate the category, in your assessment — which is a shame because you probably feel your ideas were just as good, if not better
  • your CMO is getting embarrassing questions from your CEO who is reporting back to the Board on your social strategy
  • your channel is doing it, and you are missing opportunities to piggy back on their budgets and amplify their efforts, or to get help in expanding yours from theirs
  • your employees are constantly forwarding Google Alerts with success stories from other companies and are chomping at the bit to swell with pride at yours

Setting aside the question of who owns social media — which is akin to saying who owns relationships, telephone conversations, in some cases even who owns the customer — depending on your organizational structure, social may be part of the digital or interactive marketing group.

Say for the sake of convenience that you're part of the interactive or digital marketing team, and you're tasked with implementing or integrating social media.

Given the pressure to do something from the business, you would be very smart to connect with people from different departments and groups and start to build alliances.

Here's a list of nine people you should take to lunch and why (the order depends on your industry and organization goals):

(1.) finance

The fundamental question you need to understand in this conversation is your organization's estimated cost of money or internal rate of return (IRR). The reason is that you want to learn to forecast your returns, and not just the costs. This will come in handy at budget time. ROI is history, IRR is the future.

Marketing should be a profit center.

(2.) legal

Some industries are more regulated than others. Whether you're familiar with FINRA, FDA, or other industry marketing codes, you certainly need to understand the FTC guides governing endorsements and testimonials. Most importantly, you need to understand how your will manage risk in your activities.

Here's a Q&A on the FTC Act and how it impacts bloggers.

(3.) customer service

This is still a separate department from marketing, even though in most organizations they should be together or connected in some fashion. Your colleague understands one-to-one relationships with customers, and probably has a deep reservoir of answers to questions, and satisfaction stats you want.

On the positive side, you may discover your company is fair with customer service, or even how you can transform customer service into a revenue center like, SAP, or Ritz Carlton Leadership Center.

(4.) PR or corporate communications

In some organizations your colleague's title is public affairs, or corporate relations. You want to be best friends and develop a mutually beneficial relationship so you can collaborate on messaging, align programs — PR is great air cover to demand generation, expert visibility, employee communication — and address social in a crisis situation.

Most organizations are still not ready to weather a crisis in social. Plus, they can help you become a media company.

(5.) sales

You can help extend and integrate how marketing shakes hands with sales in the lead generation process by scaling lead nurturing activities beyond the company's Web site and customer newsletter, or direct marketing programs. You will be discussing Chatter or Yammer, probably.

You will definitely be discussing questions of who gets the leads, how you're going to deal with channel, and what the reporting will look like.

(6.) product innovation

This is another colleague you may want to partner with over the long haul. Product marketing people have deep knowledge of the organization and can help you identify those places where you can measure the impact of your spend, or expected return.

Who does it already? Netflix and Cisco.

(7.) HR talent acquisition

There's opportunity for talent development as well, of course. Why not help the organization attract talent based upon the weak ties in your existing tribes? If networking provided better leads, social context provides better matches.

You do know you will start baking social into all functions moving forward.

(8.) voice of the customer

In some organizations we're stating to see a chief customer officer, or a customer advocate as a functional title. Others, often software companies, have user groups and a user group board, so a representative of that group would be great.

Since you will be offering customers a way to connect with other customers, just like user groups at events, why not involve them from the get go? Intuit, best Buy, Fiskars already do it.

(9.) executive sponsor

It's a good idea to wait until you have built alliances with some of your other colleagues before you present your plans to the executive team and find a sponsor, or meet with your executive sponsor. Just like in your lunch with sales, you will be prepared to address objections, and success criteria you will measure against.

Depending on who your sponsor is, she may care to learn about the changes in work habits and productivity as a result of a new federated knowledge management process, and more regular or real time customer insights.


You may be in a business that consolidates some of those functions, or in one where they don't exist. In that case, you may consider taking on the one that is most important to achieving the goals your business is trying to achieve by integrating social media.

Add someone native to technology and collaboration to your list, if you're not one of them. Once you're ready to implement, plan to have brown bags, breakfasts, and lunches with your IT lead. You should be spending quality time together, and your CIO and CMO are starting to do as well (microsite, requires registration).

People always got things done through connections. Your success depends on making others succeed. Who are you taking to lunch today?


[image from Vocus survey on who owns social media]

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0 responses to “Be Social to Drive Social Effectively”

  1. Valeria, what a great post. I really think that this is so important.
    I believe that the revolution of social media is that it is really bringing operational silos within a company closer together.
    The focus is on the customers. Any person with a blog is establishing relationships as a publisher to potential customers, employees and partners.
    But your process can help achieve exactly the kind of alignment our customers are demanding.

  2. Evangelism is beginning to pay off behind the firewall at my end. We’ve begun to study the business needs as they relate to our HR/training activities in order to identify pressure points we might relieve through internal social practices.
    From there, it’s a matter of translating social components to democratize the flow of knowledge across and through the enterprise, empowering the individual and, if I have my druthers, providing meaningful value to both internal and external customers.
    Thank you for the reminder to build in hooks with enterprise-wide scalability in mind, Valeria. Methinks there will be plenty of lunch dates this year. 🙂

  3. Valeria
    I have been a lurker for a while, but this post has brought me to the bright side of commenting here.
    Social media has some businesses wanting to jump in based upon the pressure points you speak of. They are needing to solve and satisfy that pressure point and are too many times overlooking the different departments and their roles. Social media while marketing is an all department collaboration where in the past the advertising and marketing was limited to the marketing department.
    This is a big change for companies as they try and wrap their arms around social media. The development of an internal strategy by simply talking to all departments is where it has to start.
    Great advice here.

  4. @Michael — the integration of social is the perfect opportunity to discuss integration on behalf of customers overall. Organizations have become complex over the years, and departments have grown apart, not intentionally, of course.
    @Brian — you will have the chance to look at issues and opportunities from different points of view, and that is always enriching.
    @Suzanne — indeed, to integrate social for the benefit of the whole organization involves everyone at various levels. Glad you made the jump into commenting.

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