5 Steps to Operationalizing Social Media in the Enterprise in 2012

January 10, 2012 Comments
5 Steps to Operationalizing Social Media in the Enterprise in 2012

If you’re like the majority of companies, your organization is already present on social media channels – sharing content, starting conversations and engaging. The role of social media ownership has probably expanded beyond just one person – the lone social practitioner – and excitement is building around social business to embrace social media across the enterprise. You probably even have a New Year’s resolution to help make your company “more social.”

But this excitement and opportunity has left one unanswered question on the table. How will your company operationalize social media so that it’s scalable, coordinated and efficient?

Social media isn’t typically discussed in the same sentence with process and efficiency, but in the new year, operationalizing social media will be one of the biggest challenges (and opportunities) for businesses. As more teams embrace social for business, more complexities will arise on who should be responsible for what, how all of this activity will be coordinated and what the right course of action should be for handling different communications.

1. Organizing Teams and Defining User Roles and Responsibilities

The good news about a social business is that many people are responsible for contributing to social initiatives. The challenge is that this can get messy. Enterprises now have an average of 178 social media accounts, according to the Altimeter Group. The implications of how many people have to organize and coordinate to make this successful are vast.

Whether by brand, geography or business goal, organizing people around social media is more crucial than ever. Who should be responsible for engaging on behalf of each of these areas? What’s the best structure to allow the most people to contribute while still having oversight?

Deciding on roles and responsibilities is also a consideration. Just because you have multiple contributors doesn’t necessarily mean they should have the same privileges. Some people may focus on Twitter responses to answer questions while others elevate engagement on Facebook Pages. This means, you should assess:

  • Who needs access to what social accounts?
  • Who should contribute content but not necessarily publish?
  • Who only needs to view activity and performance?

2. Creating a Policy

A social media policy helps protect both the brand and its employees. It can help outline acceptable behavior – both at the corporate and the personal levels.

A number of companies like IBM and Intel have blazed the trail for adopting a policy that forms best practices for social media initiatives.

No one policy is right for every company, but numerous thoughts have been shared and resources are available to help outline what factors should be included.

3. Communication plan for handling and triaging activity

Expanding social beyond one person or team means each message now has to be more coordinated than ever. Who should answer questions around product? What person(s) responds when a negative comment is posted about the company? How should company news and announcements be disseminated?

If these questions haven’t come up yet, they will. After an organization structure and policy have been put into place, assess:

  • Common communication activities taking place across corporate channels
  • Acceptable and/or preferred ways of handling each type of communication
  • The right people responsible for correspondence
  • Communication activities that require escalation and the point of contact for each
  • What types of activity should be responded to and which you deem inappropriate for response

4. Forming a Stakeholder’s Group

Successful social initiatives require oversight from a larger group to be sustainable. This may require the formation of a Center of Excellence or simply creating a group of decision makers who have regular oversight of programs and process. You should be thinking of who the right people are to create these overarching plans and processes, and how often assessments should be made on how the organization of each is working and needs to be optimized.

5. Finding the right technology to scale communication

Operationalizing social media is easier in theory than in practice. Organizing people, providing appropriate levels of access and creating workflows can only be done manually for so long.

Technology can be an asset, helping companies approach social in a way that’s organized and effective. When a management system is needed, here are a few aspects you should look for to ensure it can help you scale:

  • Personalized monitoring of keywords, accounts and users
  • Built in workflow for team assignments
  • Granular assignment of roles for contributors
  • An organization structure malleable to your organization

If your organization hasn’t made the move to operationalize social, the transition is inevitable.  Whether you’re ready to address the above questions and implement the above processes or not, being prepared to tackle the challenge will only help ensure that your organization is well on its way to truly becoming a social business.

Image: StockFresh Gears