Organizational Readiness in Social Media: 4 Core Tasks

A segment of a social network
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Jeremiah Owyang, in his blog post about his 2010 goals, mentions organizational social readiness. He says “80% of a companies success is getting their organization ready through the right roles, processes, policies, measurement.”

In a lot of ways this isn’t any different than non-social organizational readiness. The aspects listed are the core of what an organization does to stay functional, regardless of whether or not they engage with social media.

Social media, however, provides a distraction from these core tasks. Owyang notes this, crediting  tools with only 20% of an organization’s success. It’s the whole reality of knowing that a hammer doesn’t come with a pre-built house–you need to know how and when to use it.

Let’s take a look at each of four core activities Jeremiah Owyang credits for the bulk of business success:

Determining roles for social media

Who is going to run your social media operations? What sort of skills will be valuable in that person? These are the questions that business owners and marketing managers should be getting answers to, moreso than what social network generates the most buzz.

Companies need to know who is going to do what. In many medium and even larger organizations social media is still being determined based on age (“College kids use Facebook right?”) or other criteria that aren’t related to business success.

Using social media takes time, like any other marketing or customer service task. If the job of dealing with it is being handed off to someone who is already full-time employed then there’s going to be some tension somewhere.

Determining roles based on the skills and thinking of your staff is likely to be more effective than choosing roles based only on ability with a particular tool du jour.

Establishing processes for efficient social media use

Can you draw a flow chart that starts with the creation of content or social media engagement and ends with desired outcomes for your business?

Social media takes time. There are some tools which can make it take a little less time. But having a clear process saves a lot more time.

It’s a little bit like preparing artwork in animation. When you’re making an animated cartoon one of the end results is, obviously, the cartoon. But another of the end results might be artwork that goes on products.

If you prepare the art as if it were all going onto products, then it’s fairly easy to convert them for the animation. It’s impossible to upscale animation art for products–meaning that your effort needs to be duplicated if your process doesn’t take into account your ultimate goals.

You want your social media process to be clear enough that you can reduce duplicated effort and distribute the relevant content quickly and easily. Social media tools won’t do this for you because social media tools don’t know your goals or what’s good for your business.

Clear social media policies

When something happens that wasn’t planned, what will your organization do and how will it respond? Does it look like a flowchart or checklist? Could you follow it if you were panicked about losing your job?

The thing about social media is that it’s outside the control of the organization. There isn’t a newspaper publisher to call and get mad at when someone posts something you don’t like online. Having a clear policy that explains how your organization will respond to unplanned positive and negative events in social media will help a lot of people stay calm in tense moments.

Measuring social media

Do you know how your social media measurement key performance indicators relate to your business goals?

Once you’ve determined what you’re doing with social media, who’s doing it, how they’re going to do it, and what everybody will be doing if things get janky, then you can start thinking about measurement and tracking.

If you’re initiating a social media plan having a solid, useful measurement system in place will be critical to avoiding unpleasant surprises later. But even here, it’s not as much about tools as it is determining that you’re measuring the right things. Your follower count, for what it’s worth, is probably not the right thing to be measuring.

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  1. Hey Gahlord,
    Good stuff here. My colleague Justin Boland and I are working for a real estate technology company in Florida and doing a ton of research. He recently introduced me to your work and I was glad to see you’re from Vermont like us. We grew up in the NEK.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know we like your work and we’ve been utilizing some of this in our social networking workflow.

    We do a ton of research on the economics behind the housing market and publish on the Ri Blog. If any of that is useful to you, feel free to use it.

    OH, and I had never heard of slideshare before visiting your site and set up an account. It’s going to be an AWESOME tool!


  2. Glad this is useful, Garrett. I just checked out your blog briefly and it looks great. Your blogroll has some of my favorites from the real estate industry as well as the information design field. My guess is that we should hang out more!

    Thanks for stopping by,

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