Social Media: Tools of Engagment
How does an organization get past its senior executives’ distrust of
social media? At many for profits and nonprofits, the Boards of
Directors, CEO or Chief Council stand in the way of the meaningful use
of social media, fearing its use will result in legal action, especially
when the organization is in a highly regulated industry. However, the
American Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association have
thriving LinkedIn communities; and JP Morgan and Goldman Sacks have
LinkedIn groups. While integrating social media channels into a
communications plan is important, it is more about integrating
social-based thinking into business processes and culture.
it isn’t hard to demystify the nature of social networks, it is
difficult to change the habits of highly successful executives. The only
thing new about social media and its networks is the technology. If you
take away the technology piece, and think of social networks in terms
of a network of professional contacts who communicate via technology
instead of over dinner, social networks become a more familiar concept.
new twist is the technology that enables social media communications
channels, offering efficient collaboration, idea sharing and the ability
to strengthen a relationship with the group. The conversation goes on
whether an organization takes part or not, so if the organization opts
to stick its head in the sand and not take part, it gets left behind.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is
how well we do it,” said Erik Qualman, author of the book
Social media isn’t going away, it isn’t a fad.
Social media continues to be refined to meet the user’s needs, and most
organizations know it is an efficient way to network and do business.
Networking is the cornerstone to new business development, and social
media provides new networking channels to build a broader base with
closer relationships. It closes the geographic gap and expands the
universe of participants.
The Social Nature of Humans Drives Social MediaIn
the world of nonprofits, the two of the main reasons people attend
conferences and meetings are networking and the exchange of new
information with peers. Social networks enhance the experience enable
organizations to continue and enhance the relationship after the event.
Social media becomes the channel that enables idea sharing, thus
strengthening the relationship with contacts. “Organizations don’t have
to create social networks; they exist all around us in a variety of
forms. Networked Nonprofits strengthen and expand these networks by
guiding relationships within them to engage and activate them for the
organizations’ efforts,” said “The Networked Nonprofit.”
In his recent post on “SmartBlog for Social Media,” Jesse Stanchak asked Maddie Grant, chief social media strategist at Social Fish and co-author of “Open Community”,
“What are the biggest challenges that associations face when they
decide to embrace social media?” Grant said that the challenges are,
unsurprisingly, the need for social media infrastructure and
integration. Associations need to have a clear social media policy; a
response triage process for responding to negative comments; and a plan
on how to staff the social media position internally (whether it’s an
individual or team). Once the infrastructure and integration is in
place, the organizations are off and running.”
“The holy grail of
social media marketing is an act that replicates the psychological
effects of a great handshake: familiarity, engagement and trust. We’re
not there yet. I don’t know if we ever will be. But it’s a worthy goal,
because as ever more business is done online, we need to get better at
circumventing the emotional distance that the Web creates,” said
Tools of EngagementSocial media is a powerful
tool, it fueled the revolution in Egypt, it has the unique ability to
mix social with media, which gives social media the ability to both
engage and inform. In his recent Ad Age article, "Egyptian Activists Understood Key to Social Media: It's the 'Social,”
Bob Garfield points out that “So many marketers and other institutions
believe that social media is just one maddeningly inefficient channel
for selling their goods, services, politics or whatever. They see only
the word ‘media’ and ignore the word ‘social.’ You cannot understand
these technologies, much less exploit them, if you do not first
understand and internalize the idea that they are not about messaging;
they are about relationships. Until you have established one, nobody
much cares what you say.”
Social Capital is what a network needs
to be successful. “Social capital is the stuff that makes relationships
meaningful and resilient. Within such relationships two things generally
exist: trust and reciprocity. People do things for one another because
they trust that their motives are good and that they will receive
something in return some time in the future,” according to The Networked
Social Capital is important; engaging in social
networking to make announcements about your company without inviting
comment removes reciprocity from the mix, removing the social from
media. Many organizations face the challenge of how to enable engagement
when they represent a contentious issue are operate in a regulated
environment? One nonprofit overcame these obstacles on LinkedIn by
establishing a set of policies and procedures with its legal council
that its senior management could live with and then monitored the
comments on the site. They also discovered early on in the process that
group members were posting product announcements and sales information,
so they developed a special promotions section of the site for such
offers and kept the main pages of the group specifically for
Social media is about engaging in a
conversation and forming a relationship, it truly is an extension of the
professional and personal networks individuals already have. The
ability to form and or enhance a relationship is why social media is so
valuable for member-driven organizations. Before social media,
membership organizations link to members were through marketing products
and services and possibly engaging with a member’s senior leadership.
With social media, a nonprofit can have relationships deep within
organizations, forming important ties and gleaning information on how to
best serve the member’s needs on different levels.
Integrated Strategy, Not a Silver BulletWhile
sometimes it is positioned at a silver bullet, social media is really
an important component of an integrated communications plan with goals
and objectives. With so much frenzied activity regarding social media
and social networking, and “experts” setting up shop on every corner of
the Internet, it is easy to view social media as the latest shiny thing
in communications. Many organizations spend a lot of time and money on
social media, taking their eye off the real prize, achieving business
objectives. “A key objective will be to effectively educate and
integrate social-based thinking into business processes and culture,”
said Sue Cartwright, Director of UK-based Unisey Ltd.
Key questions to ask as you integrate social media channels into a communications plan are:
• What are my objectives?
• What outcomes am I looking for?
• How will I measure my results and progress?
• What are my competitors doing?
• How will I best present my brand and content?
• How will I find the right people to communicate with?
• How will I engage with my connections?
• How will I nurture collaborative relationships?
• How will I plan and implement my strategy?
** From Unisey Ltd.