This is the second of a 3 part post about whether social media really is worth investing time into or not. In the last post, I explored how important having a clear purpose for social media accounts is to success. Having a clear purpose not only allows you to set goals to see how your social media is supporting your strategy; it's also is a great way of engaging your people in a process they are perfectly placed to make a meaningful contribution to.
In this post, I am going to share some of my experiences and observations of how people play such an important role in whether your social media strategy delivers results, or whether it becomes another burden for an overstretched team/person. Having worked with hundreds of organisations since social media became part of mainstream life I have seen a growing divide in how social media is used by people.
Grassroots lead the way
Individuals and grassroots causes across the globe have embraced all it's thought sharing, collaborative, organising capabilities. It is argued that the 'Arab Spring' back in 2010 would have struggled to mobilise quite so many people so quickly behind that cause 5 years earlier, without social media and access to it via the proliferation of affordable smartphones.
On a less political note, I have worked with many community groups, young and old who are using Whatsapp, Facebook groups and even closed Twitter profiles to solve communication issues. On a personal note, I am part of a singing group called the Sunday Boys and our Facebook group is the hub of organising rehearsals, voting on gigs and outfits as well as requesting repertoire and coordinating social outings.
From organising events, delegating tasks and building connections between isolated groups, these free-to-use tools have removed distance and to some degree cost as a barrier to making a difference. Add in the democratising effect of how accessible the people who can open doors for your community are now through those 'degrees of separation;' we must surely be entering an exciting new era of interconnection and cooperation.
Medium & Large organisations: Transform your PR & Communications teams
PR & Communications teams role on social media should change from content managers to teachers and go on to be co-producers
The great power of social media is how social and natural it is. Many organisations have embraced the range of networks there are to engage more people. However, the article that provoked these three blog posts proposes there is little return on investment from social media. When I look at how many organisations have configured their social media it often sits with a team who have a background in corporate communications and PR.
It seems perfectly logical to place social media with these teams at first thought, after all, it's a fledgeling marketing tool, so let's get the people who have traditionally done our marketing do take on this mantle. These teams are great at crafting a brand identity and ensuring that these messages are shared across multiple channels consistently.
We live in a modern, topsy-turvey world where your brand is increasingly what people say about you, not what you want to be heard. Believing you can control your brand is fast becoming something of a fantasy. This is not something to fear, merely a change in the landscape which you can thrive in. I propose that there is a great opportunity for your brand professionals to evolve from being managers of content to teachers and to go on to be co-producers, working whole armies of supporters and networks of people to make a bigger impact.
Small Organisations: Have a social media leader, not a manager
Beware the social media lone ranger
I can understand why organisations appoint a single person to 'manage their 'on-line presence' its simple, tidy and focused. However as with medium and larger organisations, you aren't benefiting from the power of something which by its nature is messy - and risk over managing something which we like to think we can control. Let's instead recast this person as a social media leader. Their role is now to share what they know with colleagues, volunteers, customers and their results measured on the volume and quality of posts that those people produce. A raft of 10, 20, 50, 100, 300 people will create far more content that your poor 1 person ever could.
That person's energy then gets put into communicating and working closely with those people to train them, build their confidence, give stimulus and campaigns to enable those people to be inspired and create their own content. This does require trust, however, I have seen it used incredibly successfully. Don't forget to link all those measurements back to your social media purpose. We will explore this in more detail in the final part of this post when we look at the process.
How to get some grassroots magic
We all want our cake and to eat it and it can be done with some great leadership. The power of grassroots, natural use of social media with the expertise of brand planning and communications of your marketing/comms team or person.
Here are the top 3 things I have seen make a difference
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The web is all about story telling. From Facebook to Wikipedia, and even through to sites like Amazon with its endless warehouse of described products - everyone's got a story to tell you about
Why is it then that I hear so often from charities that they feel they struggle to access the vast benefits the web has to offer? The tumbling price of smart phones are putting the opportunity to find something in a moment in to millions of new hands every day.
Charities, with their missions to improve the lives of others are brimming with more inspirational stories than the features of a new electric toothbrush. The web also offers the world access to the valuable support charities can offer people 24 hours a day at no extra cost. So what is happening?
I read an interesting article the other day which seemed to suggest that charities investing in social media is often a waste of resource for attracting donors. The article instead advises charities to invest in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Google Adwords (Google's advertising mechanism). For me, Social Media and SEO are part of the same bigger picture of attracting and engaging people with your cause - from recruiting to your mission and everything in between. This blog is just as relevant for anyone wanting to improve their confidence and results from social media.
From my own experience of being Interim CEO of a charity who was well known for its innovative use of social media to engage with its membership, the donor argument is a little narrow for me. There are three things which are often overlooked before you even get to the kinds of results a charity might expect from investing in social media. In this article we will explore Purpose. In the next posts I'll share about how to upskill your fabulous people and how to fix the leaks in process / funnel that can haemorrhage visitors to your online.
Some examples & starting points:
Let's have a chat
In the meantime if you would like to have a chat about making the most of online and what it can offer your organisation, including strategy workshops, an impartial view of your current strategy, staff training and hands on help to get you tuned up, just start a project with an enquiry today
Copyright and all photography: Ed Moss 2016