Business Strategy and Brand Values First in Social Media Projects

New Breed of Business Strategists for Social Media

 Social Media has many businesses taking a fresh look at their online strategy. This new business approach is so new, that most experts themselves are making the rules as they go.

When it comes to social media make sure you engage professionals who tackle this task from a business strategy perspective first,  rather than jumping into creating web or Facebook pages and the like.  There is a small sector of business strategists who are focused on business strategy and outcome over technology when it comes to the online channel.

Leading the pack in this new breed of strategists are Experience Networks  Ltd,  they are specialists in web strategy— joining the dots between customer satisfaction, business success, creative desire and technical reality.  

When I asked some of the Experience team for some advice for those looking at Social Media for business , Miriame Barbarich and Olly Barrett  had the following advice for business owners :

Where to start? Without guidance it can be difficult to know where to apply early efforts. Initially our message is always to ‘Listen’ before contemplating doing any social media activity. We’ll identify a few tools and places to look in order to find out what people are already saying about an organisation or initiative. This is sometimes a revelation to them.

Why start? We’ve experienced a top down pressure within organisations to ‘do social media’ without a real understanding of whether it would make sense for that organisation. Is it realistic to expect people to ‘Like’ or follow a government department when they see it as another channel for press releases? Thinking creatively and with relevancy and sustainability is important.

Resource management Social media can require the establishment of a cross-functional team with a broader remit than classic communications or advertising. Creating, managing and inspiring this team can take time and effort. Resourcing out of office hours can sometimes be a challenge.

 Internal empowerment concerns can exist with letting go of some element of control and approval loops to permit employees to directly commence and contribute to the conversation.

Policy conflicts specific to government, considerations surround the need to comply with the Privacy Act 2005 for auditing and identifying exactly who within an organisation is able to sign an organisation up to a social media account and effectively bind the Crown. Important when thinking about where and how NZ citizen data may be stored. This has lessened slightly with recently changes in policy.

Letting the conversation happen this is the biggest issue for organisations and government departments in terms of creating an official space within which they have less control over what is being said about them, both positive and negative. Equally, it is important to realise it will happen anyway whether you’re involved or not so providing another viewpoint to the conversation can be necessary.

Objectives for the likes of Telecom and other large corporations the desire can be to build longer term relationships and create a sense of ‘from the horse’s mouth’. Slightly different for government departments which work on shorter term campaigns and have mass communication objectives. In these cases it may be necessary to focus on the place social media can have in increasing engagement instead of extending reach.

A good time to review your Business Culture, values and purpose!

From my perspective I would recommend reviewing your core business strategy and culture in light of these new tools.

This is a time to be absolutely clear about your work culture and brand values. Check your business and marketing strategy
In particular I would recommend  the following approach:

  1. Ensure that you have clarity and purpose for you company at a strategic level about your business culture and value you give your customers.
  2. Dip your toe in the water and listen and observe what is being said about you and your brand.  It’s like going to a dinner party with new friends, observe first then participate in conversation.
  3. Decide how at a strategic level this new form of engagement can add value for your company and identify some potential projects and who from your company (hopefully everybody) will participate. Engage some professional help.
  4. Train and socialise internally you Brand personality – like Telstra’s 3 R policy. How open and who is going to be able to speak on behalf of your company.
  5. Only then consider what project(s) you should undertake, and get in the techno –web2 teams and subcontractors.
  6. Test and be ready to fail and adapt fast.

Oh and of course get some help from the likes of the Experience Team www.experience.net.nz

Point of disclosure – GrowthManagementConsulting are advisors to *Experience

@MRobotham #socialmedia

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