Social Media Done RightBy Michael S. Kenny and Will Yen | Posted 2009-12-08 Print
Here’s how to build a successful social media strategy and architecture.
Social Media Done Right
Some of the top brands in the United States have formulated recipes for success in building meaningful social media platforms. For example, Zappos initiated the use of Twitter to manage the company’s employee churn problem: By using Twitter as an immediate feedback mechanism, the organization was able to address key employee problems in real time. This year, Zappos made Fortune’s list as one of the top 100 best companies to work for in the United States.
CNN launched iReport in early 2008 to open up a channel for “citizen journalism,” which allows the public to try its hand at reporting online. The site, which claims more than 300,000 user reports to date, has become a significant news-gathering tool. In fact, CNN has a dedicated staff of reporters who review user input for integration into its network news coverage.
In order to successfully execute in the social networking arena, an organization must understand its culture and its willingness to undertake this type of initiative. Culture will have a profound impact on overall strategy, and privacy policies and corporate guidelines must be carefully considered. Cultures that safeguard and shroud product development information might find it intimidating to share that information in a social medium.
In order to be successful, an organization’s social strategy and presence must be consistent with its culture and values. Considering all these factors will help management build a realistic strategy that is tailored to its vision.
The Technology of Social Media
Numerous platform and product providers in the social media technology marketplace can provide the back-end capabilities needed to build the foundation for a social media architecture. Industry leaders are emerging, offering comprehensive product features and, in some cases, providing significant understanding of the business requirements that their product is supporting.
Further, technology called “listening platforms” provides analytics from which to mine data and derive insights from a social network. Some are delivered as software that can be integrated into the community’s platform. With these tools, organizations can participate in, but cannot control, the conversation, enabling them to learn from each discussion and interaction in order to help shape and achieve business objectives.
Nurturing, growing and maintaining a community requires close examination. For this is where the “magic” happens—when a company has developed a healthy, thriving community in which all participants, no matter what their role, find value in contributing, communicating and interacting. Measuring the progress of this community’s development is crucial because it allows a firm to make adjustments to its community-building strategy and tailor the community to its customers’ needs.
The social media phenomenon is here to stay, and it will continue to have an impact on business decisions. Customers are demanding interaction. Conversations about your enterprise or its products and services are likely already happening within these networks—even if your organization has not yet joined the dialogue.
The larger the organization or the more complex the business or industry, the greater the need for a thoughtful and measurable strategy that can be executed and maintained by all parties involved. Any organization wishing to engage in the “conversation” must define its social media architecture across the components of business benefits or purpose, culture, policies, platform and presence, listening platforms, metrics and community.
Michael S. Kenny, the managing director of Slalom Consulting, is based in San Francisco. He has more than 18 years of consulting experience across a variety of industries and has led technology engagements for a wide array of Fortune 500 companies.
Will Yen, a senior consultant at Slalom Consulting, is based in San Francisco. He has 8 years of experience delivering business solutions for Fortune 500 companies.
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