Opening The Door To Social Media Impacts The Entire Organization


Door  Are the people within your organization aligned with your social media strategy and do they understand how social media will impact the enterprise?

When most enterprises develop their social media plans the work usually begins with defining goals/objectives which leads to how to measure success and of course defining the tactical execution. 

Few companies begin their internal social media foundation with HOW social media will impact the organization, the brand and the people. By people I mean those who actively participate in social media whether through interfacing directly in blogs or social networks AND those whose job now includes analyzing how to (or how not to) integrate the information from consumer generate conversations into product development, customer service, PR, etc. etc. etc.

I also mean your customers and stake holders. Is there a disconnect between your Twitter response time and your telephone customer support hold time? Social media adds dimensions to our business relationships that go beyond negative comments.

Opening the enterprise door to social media impacts the entire organization from the way communication is handled to customer service to hiring decisions.  impacts the entire organization from the way communication is handled to customer service to hiring decisions.

Update Note: It seems to me that a new model is in the making .. let's call it The Social Enterprise.

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to join marketers and friends at the first social media conference held in Birmingham, AL - Social South or as it was fondly called .. #SoSo. My presentation played off a Southern theme .. I called it Social Media Southern Hospitality Style.

I used the lessons from the culture of Southern Hospitality as the foundation to discuss this critical aspect of a social media strategy that is too often overlooked .. organizational alignment.

  • How can you be your authentic "self" while staying true to your company's value and culture?

Through a series on interactive questioning we worked (we really did this together!) through four pillars: Relationships. Values. Culture. Change Jasonfall twitter You can find the deck which includes all the feedback, along with many other presentations from the conference on Social South Slideshare.

In keeping with Southern Hospitality we begin with discussing how "Front Porch Conversations" develop relationships and build community. When you visit on the front porch, or on a city stoop, you extend your world from inside your house to outside into your neighborhood. Sometimes it's neighbors you know who drop by but sometimes it's a stranger new to your community. Southern Hospitality teaches us to wave Hey to everyone.

Question: How do you bring that type of interaction and relationship to the digital world?

Responses: Sharing – always make relationships beneficial for both parties. Invite them to connect. Make it safe for both. Minimize fear. Must be a part of where the people are online: leaving comments, posts, etc. Have a plan. Use personal relationships to refer counterparts, friends and family to your digital world/networks. Build a community: blog, email, Twitter, Facebook.

We spent significant time discussing culture and values. Fried green tomatoes or Bubba's jokes may not appeal to everyone. Each of us has a unique personality and our own approach to social media. The challenge is how to be true to yourself, project your authentic personality while still coloring inside the lines of your company's culture.

Questions: Is it okay to “vanilla down” your personality to fit the culture of your company? How do you remain true to yourself?

Responses: Believe in what you share. Values begets values. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for me? Values, ethics, morals, honesty, transparency, listening. Keep part of yourself to yourself. Remember you’re always on the stage. You have to take your company’s culture to represent them in the social world. Be an advocate at all times for your company. React positively to good and bad feedback. Don’t work for dicks. Exhibit your personality as long as it stays in the guidelines of your brand.

7 Tips For Preparing An Organization for Social Media

1. Create cross functional teams

2. Identify impact on specific areas

3. Are the right communication processes in place?

4. Do employees have the right skills and experience?

5. New job descriptions -> new evaluation criteria may be needed.

6. Where does social media reside? Can it have mulitple “homes?”

7. Who “owns” the customer relation? The answer may hold some surprises.

  • Social media will disrupt the way you do business .. but if you're prepared it can be a very good thing that helps not hinders the growth of your organization.

Thanks to the great people at Social South who played along with me. @seankelley, @southernplate, @jasonfalls, @ikepigott, @treypennington, @takinpitchas,@bethharte, @mackcollier, @kdrewien, @resultsrev, @kellyecrane, @navistarlpga, @barbersindy, @billpowell, audreypannell, @charityhisle,@annehearnhuff, @sailingbo, @betsyfgray, @sweetsheets, @anwith1n, @thomascook, @dennispillion @ScottSchablow. There were lots more but unfortunately I don’t have their @s. Social South 2009


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Wish I could have been there! Thanks for this post on your presentation and some of the takeaways from Social South. Excellent discussion on how social media affects the *entire* organization--many companies are not prepared for that at all.

Posted by: Connie Reece on Aug 26, 2009 12:56:37 PM

Toby, I loved the idea of having "front porch" conversations. Another benefit of this is it's possible that passer-byers will over hear something and join in. It's definitely a great way to grow your community and it helps create that southern hospitality feel.

Posted by: Elizabeth on Aug 26, 2009 2:30:36 PM

Toby, I love your perspective on things. Glad you're gonna be with us at the New Media Atlanta Conference

Posted by: Matt Fagioli on Aug 27, 2009 6:46:43 AM

@conniereese - you were the missing southern 'hospitality' link at soso!

@elizabeth - great point. people who are strolling by might become - shall we call them porch sitter? adding more depth to the community and new ideas to the conversation.

@matt fagioli - exciting to see more social media events taking place in the "South." Can Atlanta really be call the South? lol! Thanks for including me in New Media Atlanta.

Posted by: Toby on Aug 27, 2009 8:40:27 AM

Toby, It was wonderful to meet you in person at Social South. Your participatory presentation was fantastic. It's engaging, insightful sessions like that, that truly made Social South unlike any other Social Media event. Thanks for being an important part of it. I hope we can get you back next year! Oh, and please add my my Twitter address above: @ScottSchablow.

Posted by: Scott Schablow on Aug 27, 2009 2:45:04 PM

@scottschablow thanks for your kind words. What is missing from this post is how very special Social South was - especially as a first conference. Everyone I spoke to at the event agreed no one felt left out. Southern Hospitality in action .. which is a Huge tribute to you, Mack, Jason, Ike and your team.

Posted by: Toby on Aug 27, 2009 2:51:37 PM

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