In one of my earlier posts I talked about the importance of designing social media processes for common circumstances your social media team might come up against in a day’s work. Process is crucial in mapping out your social media workflow so that it is:
The benefits to having the right processes at your fingertips are innumerable but just to name a few of the top off the top of my head – they can help your team be more cost effective, be able to avoid risk and pitfalls, and respond quickly to deal with tough situations due to preparedness. As Jeremiah Owyang said in his post Breakdown: Social Media Workflow, Process, Triage, process and order help to reduce inefficiencies and increase the end goals.
In this post I will walk through the steps you can use to create processes – RIPP (Recognize, Identify, Plot, and Practice) One of the key processes for social media is the “Crisis” process. During a crisis or hot issue there is no time to step back and wonder who you need to contact, who needs to know what, or what should be said (or not said)– you need to move to the next step immediately. Let’s use this as our example going forward.
Recognize current process
Sit down with key stakeholders, and start to identify what you do today in the situation. What generally happens when a crisis or issue arises in social media? Even if you all just run around pulling out your hair, record that.
Identify who is involved
Next, consider mapping out a responsibility matrix, or what is known as a RACI, where you define who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed in a process.
In our example of a social media crisis you would need to consider who will be responsible for posting on social properties, who will be responsible for communicating to internal stakeholders and getting the necessary approvals? If something goes wrong who is accountable? Are they also the same people who need to approve messages and actions? Before you take an action are there people who need to be consulted? Perhaps product managers if the issue at hand is product related Finally, make sure you know who needs to be informed and at what stage. Senior leaders may like to be informed at each step or just be kept in the loop at completion so that they aren’t caught off guard at the next leadership meeting.
Plot it out
With your key stakeholders start to map out what the process should look like. The previous steps should help as a starting point, but you will want to identify questions and gaps at each step. You can simply write this down in a step-by-step format making note of some important pieces of information –who is involved, what is happening, and how long it will take. However, a process map which visually shows the same information is more useful. Software like Microsoft Visio is commonly used for these process maps.
As part of this exercise you might find a large whiteboard or hang paper on a wall in a boardroom. Separate the paper into “swim lanes” indicating the different teams involved in your process (eg PR, Customer Service, Marketing). Then jot down the steps that you expect need to happen on large sticky notes. Using the sticky notes you can move them around the swim lanes and add others as you identify gaps.
In a simplified example, the steps in a crisis process may be: Issue in social space identified, report created identifying volume and sentiment and issue details, message for social properties created, message posted on social properties, stakeholders notified. Here is an example of what this might look like:
Practice, Revise, Repeat
It is likely you won’t get the process right the first time. Once you have a draft share with everyone involved with the process, gather feedback and adjust. Consider a “firedrill” to practice the process a few times. It is better to find the bugs during a mock crisis than at the heat of the moment.
Some common errors teams make when defining processes are:
(1) Having only one decision maker at any given point: If there isn’t a specific team or group that can approve, find multiple approvers from a few teams and create a distribution list.
(2) They identify specific individuals: Ideally you identify roles – not people. People come and go in an organization. If you have Sally or even Sally, Mike as approvers and the next time Sally and Mike are no longer at the company your process will fail.
(3) They don’t set thresholds or severity levels: Where possible set thresholds or examples when the process should be used. Especially important with issues and crisis process – you don’t want the process to fail because the stakeholders called wolf too many times.
(4) They don’t capture everyone who needs to be informed: Remember the front lines as well as the senior leaders.
(5) They aren’t tied to other relevant processes. In our crisis example you will want to ensure your process is tied to Communications crisis process and business continuity plans.
Do you have tips on how you have defined processes in your organization? What has worked and what hasn’t? Have you run fire-drills or practices?