Process: A Pragmatic Approach to Social Business

Companies Who Start With Implementation Are At Risk.
In a frantic hurry to catch up with customers, companies often jump into social media without having a plan, which is a classic “leap before you look” approach.  Soon, they find they are unable to scale as more customer adopt the tools, and are not ready for a long term engagement with customers even around negative conversations.  While companies feel compelled join the conversation now to respond to customers, they should not throw out business planning. To avoid this predicament companies should step back and approach social business like any other business program: with a plan.

Process: A Pragmatic Approach to Social Business

Instead, Follow A Pragmatic Process.
Start with gaining intelligence, by first getting educated about how business is changed, then develop a plan that aligns with the needed resources. While many of these phases are an ongoing effort, and have overlap to each other, this process is a designed to help corporations who don’t know where to start to use as a checklist.  Education, Research, Measurement should be ongoing efforts across the entire program, but in order to get started this pragmatic set of steps are an ideal way to start.   This process described below isn’t a new one, it’s a classic pattern found by most seasoned program and project managers, but I’ve added specific ‘social business’ questions to assist.

Process: A Pragmatic Approach to Social Business

Phase Description Questions to Answer Where to find resources
1) Education Become informed on the impacts of social technology to your customers, employees, and comapny How have customers changed their behaviors? How has business changed due to this power shift? Conferences, Books, Analyst Firms, Thought Leaders, Webinars
2) Research To document the changes in your specific market, and tools How do my customers and employees use social technology? How will they in the future? What tools are most used? What are my competitors doing? Socialgraphics studies, Research firms, Marketing Research departments
3) Strategy Defines specific goals of what is to be accomplished What are the business goals? How will we measure success? How does this support the company and customers mission? A combination of aligning to your executive leadership, agency partners, and your corporate social strategist
4) Planning Defines specific resources needed in what timeline How much money do we need? What skills are needed? How much time is needed? When will we complete this?  Which vendors do we need? Agency partners, project managers, community managers
5) Implementation Initiating the plan How will this be integrated into existing efforts? Community managers, developers, agency partners, technology vendors.
6) Management Ongoing support of efforts How will we keep this long term effort going forward? What resources and staff are needed for continual program growth? Community manager, agency partners, technology vendors
7) Measurement How effective was our effort? How well did we perform? What can we do better? What didn’t work, what worked and why? Analytics and measurement groups, brand monitoring vendors, agency partners, and business intelligence providers
8 Renewal Improving the effort after understanding how it has been deployed How can we improve this effort going forward? How can we integrate it? All teams, but most importantly expand beyond the social team into the rest of digital marketing, events, and real world experiences.

*Caveat: Many of these items such as education, research, and measurement should not be started then abandoned, but instead are an ongoing part of the overall program.

To get started, print this post out and use as a checklist for each of your social business initiatives: communities, blogs, Facebook pages, and beyond. Ensure that your strategy and plan has each of these elements in line as well as answers the resources required for each. In our recent webinar in Getting Your Company Ready for Social Business we discuss the importance of having a plan.