With all the hype surrounding social media, it’s tempting to want to jump in, set up a presence and start talking to your clients or customers, right off the bat.
Problem is, that approach can open oodles of cans of worms that your company is going to need time to process and discuss.
1. Start small.
Starting with the inner-most circle of people who are interested in seeing social media implemented at your company, (Or your social media task force, if you have one) use social media to, literally, get everyone on the same page.
To do this, you can use public-facing tools, privately, such as…
…or internal—facing tools such as…
There is no right or wrong choice (you also can choose to build your own tools.) Just find something that feels comfortable for all involved.
For smaller companies, public-facing platforms can be valuable because they can cause faster – but delicate – disruptions in your communications ecosystem that will show you immediately where your challenges lie.
(For instance, if you set up a closed Facebook group for your team and learn that no one can actually access Facebook from their desk, then you’ve got a clear first objective to tackle.)
In addition to questions related to access, this first ripple of implementation will enable you to identify and clarify…
- What your business objectives are in using social media.
- Which social platforms your employees feel most comfortable using.
- Who needs training in specific social media platforms (and how much.)
- How to get staff more comfortable using social media regularly.
2. Connect the dots.
Once you’ve got your initial group of social media ambassadors/champions connected and communicating as a group, identify other areas within your company that make sense to pull in. (For example, if you’ve set up an internal group for the marketing team, invite PR to participate, too.)
Another wise move at this point is to identify any social outposts that already exist within your company, (For example, rogue department Facebook Fan Pages or social accounts which were set up for a campaign, but then abandoned) and start to pull these groups/accounts into your implementation plans, too.
These interim connection steps will enable you to…
- Determine the best course of action for widening employees’ social media participation.
- Identify the hurdles you’re going to need to overcome as you start increasing involvement in social media.
- Start collecting real world examples of social’s effectiveness in connecting team members and disseminating information, so you can more effectively sell social media to your remaining hold outs and doubters.
3. Ripple outward.
Once you have groups up, running and interconnected in social media, start to widen your circles organically throughout the company. (Again, there is no one right or wrong way to do this.)
Your goal is to establish a social media backbone that can run throughout your entire company, supporting internal communications.
This last step will enable you to identify and clarify…
- What kind of content you want to discuss in your social channels, where that content is going to come from, and who needs to approve the content before it is posted.
- What social media policies you should have in place to help govern any questions or concerns that crop up while the ripples progress outward.
- Who will be in change of enforcing these policies.
- How you intend to use social media dashboards to monitor internal and external conversations.
- Which thought leaders within your company have insights to share in the content development process.
Once you’ve tackled these and other internal-facing concerns, your company is going to be in a strong position to develop an effective and efficient public-facing social presence.
The important thing to remember throughout this whole process is that social media will be a disruptive force — both inside and outside your company.
Instead of trying to protect everyone from it, your goal in rippling slowly outward is to make those disruptions happen in waves, to tackle each wave as it comes, and then to move on to the next challenge on your road to success.