social business slow down to speed upMany businesses feel like they are the last to get online. They decide they want to “do social” and all of a sudden it becomes an emergency.

Often times the CEO or other executive attends a one off social media training event such as a class for LinkedIn or Facebook and next thing you know all corporate business priorities are put on hold. Within days there is now only one priority and that is “doing social.” Nobody really knows why other than that executive management said it’s the priority.

We have worked with some of these organizations. Often times the person leading the marketing “gets it” and knows a strategy of such is a recipe for disaster. However, many times their executive management doesn’t. Also, we see that even the folks that “get it” lack the will power or are not empowerd to educate the executive management team on the reality of the situation. So more times than not they all sit at the conference room looking at one another looking for an answer they know they are not going to get. They know the executive who is telling them to “do social” is not understanding social media. However, none of them have the guts to say anything for whatever reason it may be.

“Doing social media” should not be the objective!

Aligning social media in ways that can positively impact the business goals and objectives is what shoul dhappen. Integrating social media as part of the DNA of your business should be the goal. The goal should be to evolve to be a social business, not just a business that does social or posts to Facebook.

Getting on Facebook is NOT an Emergency!

You have been without Facebook since you started your business. It should not be a career or life threatening situation for your organization or employees to get on Facebook this month!

Did you know that 90-95% of people who “like” a Facebook page never go back to that page after clicking “like”? Organizations that are measuring results only based on likes and number of followers are going to have a big awakening over the next couple years as they look back and see all they’ve spent on “doing social” yet have little return monetary and non-monetary.

You have one time to make a first impression. Rushing to get the Facebook page up without understanding your audience will do about as much for your business this month as attending the one off social media class. The return will come when you figure out how to integrate social media and align it to the goals where it can have the greatest impact.

 

social business planning successSlow Down to Speed Up!

The truth is, even though there may be much executive pressure to “do social” and hop on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, your results will be exponentially higher if you take a deap breath, and slow down for a few moments.

Slowing down to determine goals and objectives will actually speed your time to market and results. Sorry, but getting a Facebook page up is not really “getting to market” with social media. A Facebook page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn profile setup are all great. However, they are just one task in what should be an integrated plan that includes social media. The social network profiles are the start not the end. They are not the task you should measure your results.

Social networking tasks, activities and profile setups done independently of business goals, objectives, or any integration with your marketing and business plan are nothing more than random acts of marketing (RAMs). RAMS are not good for business and particularly not good for ROI. RAMS always feel good as you get to cross lots of stuff off your list. However, it’s usually lots of “random” stuff that when added up together takes a lot of resource, time and mindshare. Worst part is return is usually hard to measure as goals and objectives were not set from the beginning.

So what should you do if you are reading this and can relate to this situation at least 75%? Below are my thoughts on what you should do. I have no choice but to be blunt and completely honest with you. Please know you are not the only one in this situation. Any decent agency or consultant should also have the guts not to sugar coat it for you just to get your business as both they and you will see greater success only if you come to terms on what it really takes to be a social business.

10 Tips to Slow Down to Speed Up for Social Business Success

1. Do a mindset check.
You must be brutally honest here. Do a quick assessment of yourself, your team, leadership team members, stakeholders, and top executives. Where are they in their understanding of social media and what it takes to see results? If they are still far off from reality then this needs to be dealt with as a number one priority. If a key executive stakeholder believes social media is going to save his or her broken business they need a dose of social sanity asap!

2. You need a social media zoom master!
Who is going to ensure social media is integrated with your business? Who will ensure that you do more than “do social” but that you start making real strides to be a social business?

social media zoom masterI can not put into words the importance of having this one person who wants to own the intitiative. They should eat, sleep and breath success in your adoption of social media.

They can not be assigned this role without also being empowered. They must have ability to assign resources, bring people into teams, make decisions, educate (stand up to) executive management, communicate across key stakeholder and impacted departments within the organization.

This person should be a good communicator, team leader and have respect from their peers within the organization. This person must also be supported by an executive champion.

I am not a believer in the CEO, chairman or president in most companies being the social zoom master. They can be the executive champion. However, you need to assign someone who can literally eat sleep and breath social. Doing it a couple hours a week is not going to suffice. I have met very few CEOs, chairmans or presidents who have the time to do such unless it is a very small or one man/woman company.

social media goals3. Know your business goals and objectives.
Knowing your business goals and objectives is the number one most important aspect if you want to see results with any type of marketing, communications or public relations. Social media is no different. Just because you can get a Facebook page up overnight doesn’t mean you should.

This is where you MUST take time to slow down to speed up. Many times when we meet with business leaders and we mention the words goals and objectives they immediately raise on eyebrow. We can sometimes even tell if they had an opportunity they might even throw a rotten tomato at us as they think we’re just there to milk them for more money and prolong the project. The truth is the project will run more efficiently and deliver better results if they spend time with us up front to help them plan and integrate. When they do this it’s easier for them to take the social training wheels off and zoom without us.

4. Do a reality check.
Do you have the budget, resources, personnel, skillset to do more than “do social media?” Or are you stuck with a web team that still works with only old technology, have a website that is pieced together yet the web guy or girl doesn’t want anyone to touch it? How is the marketing team? Are their skills up to par? Where is the mindset and understanding of executives?

Know what obstacles you have ahead and deal with them head on. Social will bring many skeletans out of the closet. Better to deal with them now then to have them come falling out of the closet on your Facebook page in three months for everyone to see!

5. Are you really ready to be a social business?
The truth may be that you are not ready to fully invest in social media. If you don’t know your business, audience and lack goals and objectives then your first task should be to get your arms around your business. Social media is not a band-aid for a broken business. It will not solve your problems for you. It will bring more light to them so you better fix them before your community fixes them for you in a public forum!

 6. How will you measure success?
What does success look like? Are stakeholders clear on how to measure success? Are they in agreement? Ensure that you align metrics with the goals and objectives for your business and related social media activities. There are many free tools and excellent affordable paid tools and software than can help you measure your efforts from day one.

social media return on investment7. Not everything with social media can be measured.
Bottom line, social media is still in it’s infancy. I am confident someday we will look back on these days and giggle at the archaic tools and tech we use today. We’ll laugh at the manual processes and patched together solutions we build to try to find justification for our time spent.

Remember, there is much benefit in becoming a social business tha reaches far beyond the income statement and ROI report. Social media enables you to build and nurture relationships with people you already know and people near and far you don’t. You can connect 1:1 and 1:many in ways that break many rules of traditional marketing. Embrace these benefits and realize inspiring somebody on Facebook and bringing them closer to your brand is not easily measured. Good will come of the big and little efforts over time. You must be patient.

8. Don’t expect instant results.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to set proper expectation with all stakeholders. Do not promise overnight results. Many do not see a measurable return on social media related efforts for months, a year or more. As mentioned above in number 7, much of what you do with social is difficult to measure.

Integrating with your business gives you the greatest ability to measure return. Align social to the business goals and objectives where you can have the greatest impact and measurement will be a bit more scientific.

social networking for business9. Do your research.
In order to put a plan together that will deliver your results you must do proper research. Take time to learn your audience, listen to what the communities which you want to engage are talking about. Study how they interact, what they respond to. Take time to understand the social ecosystem is much more than a Facebook page. Learn and study how you can fit your business within the ecosystem. How can you become part of the ecosystem? How can you help evolve the ecosystem? How can you connect with and engage your community?

Slow down and listen and learn so that you can put vroom in your zoom when the time comes!

10. Don’t make a quick decision on outsourcing or hiring internally.
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to decide day one before you barely know what Facebook is, that you want to outsource 100% of your social media. Do NOT make these decisions until you complete some of the above. All agencies and consultants are not created equal. If you need help learning the ecosystem and developing an integrated plan then simply hire a qualified agency or consultant to help you with such. We help many clients learn the ecosystem and develop a plan. We always encourage them to not outsource to us 100%. We will never develop a long term plan for a client until we have taken time to understand their business, markets and how social can best help their business. We then determine the best working model which usually starts with us doing more of the work up front, training their staff and a goal to transition some or even all of the work to them eventually. Even clients who do want to outsource to us for various reasons we will not do such without proper stakeholder assignment and resource allocation within the client organization. We believe there must be engagement from the brand client to see results. I do not know your business and clients like you do. Unless you have the time and commitment to dedicate someone to engage with us as we develop and implement your project it is not likely to succeed.

You don’t have to make these decisions right away. However, it is something you should start thinking about. Start with the assessment of your current team, skills and budget. The plan inclusive of goals and objectives must take into account reality of the situation and not a dream, pie in the sky budget. Then, what you should outsource versus keep internally will be much more clear as you have a real perspective on the social ecosystem, your goals and objectives and the resources you have to apply to bring them to fruition.

Your Turn

Is your organization willing to slow down to speed up? Is there pressure on you and your team to “do social” or “get on Facebook” without a plan? How are you going to handle the situation? For those of you who have successfully conquered this and been able to help your organization slow down, please share your tips with others. Your story will inspire others to do the same.

 

 35 Social Media Truths

This is the third in a series on social business I am working on “35 Social Media Truths“. It is part of a keynote presentation I gave at Rochester Institute of  Technology. If you want to hear more, sign up for the 35 Social Media Truths Newsletter and you will receive all 35 of them over a period of time. Included will be different mediums such as video, blog posts and more.

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