How should we organize around social media?
Last month, we took a look at Big Brands and how we’re approaching Social Media. After I wrote that column, which talked a lot about how the book on Social Media largely remains to be written for big brands, a number of things happened. First of all, we had our annual internal SEO and Social Media conference at Yahoo!, where we spent a great deal of time talking about how we, as a company, should organize around social media. Then, I spent a few days at SES San Jose talking to folks around the industry as well as catching up with some of the presenters from our internal conference. Finally, at Yahoo! we began to take the first steps toward really organizing and coordinating our social media efforts. All the ensuing conversation gave me a glimpse of at least one possible picture of how big brands will successfully latch onto social media and use it intelligently as marketing channel going forward.
You Are Here
The truth is that at Yahoo! and other big brands, there is already a decent amount of social media marketing going on right now. As well, it’s normally the case that these efforts, however many and however significant, are not being coordinated in any way. Sound familiar? It should, because this is the age-old challenge with Search Marketing, both paid and organic, in large organizations. Perhaps that’s why as search marketers, we find ourselves both drawn to social media and in the center of the conversation about social media in large, multi-divisional companies.
So, now that we’re engaged in the conversation, what do we do? This is the question I asked repeatedly to everyone who would listen in the past two weeks. One of the most well-thought out answers came from Bill Hunt, who happens to have just wrote a column on Centers of Excellence (CoE) for search and social media.
In his post, Bill does a great job of defining the CoE role as it relates to search marketing, and then teases us on the topic of social media. I was lucky enough to spend some time hanging out with Bill and we were able to dig a bit deeper on the topic. It turns out that many of the ways in which SEO plays out in large organizations have direct analogues in the world of social media.
Take it From the Top
In order to succeed, you need to start with executive buy-in, and you need a focal point for the CoE who can act as the expert. This is normally someone from Marketing, Corporate Communications, or Public Relations, but I think the key is that this person needs to be empowered in this position and backed by a C-class executive. This is the person who ultimately will set standards, key performance indicators (KPIs), serve as the primary social media evangelist, and define high-level strategy. Perhaps most importantly, this person needs to clearly outline the scope of social media at your company. In other words, how many points of presence (think facebook pages or twitter feeds) will the company have? What topics will get representation? Who owns each point of presence? These are the tough decisions your thought leader will have to make.
Supporting the leader of this group there needs to be a resource (ideally a small team) of people who can roll out the strategy into practice. These folks will generate the documentation to support standards, conduct social media audits, build the facebook pages, dictate conventions for twitter hashtags, and will coordinate with SEO, engineering and other neighboring groups. They will also have to handle governance, which Bill points out is not enforcement, but ideally looks more like stewardship and guidance. Finally, this team will need to be responsible for measuring success against the KPIs that have previously been established.
If You Can’t Measure It, It Doesn’t Exist
This is one of our credos in our direct marketing group at Yahoo!, and it translates to social media. What are we trying to accomplish with social media, and how will we measure it? This will be tricky, because most of the metrics associated with social media are fairly soft. Do yourself a favor here and start simple. Track unique users from social media as a starting point. Do you have any type of valuation for new users on your site? If not, make some assumptions, just remember to go back later and validate them. One example of this was pointed out during a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a company that builds viral applications for facebook. The example goes something like this: start out with a promotion to your existing client base. Measure the amount of customers who enter the promotion. Put it out on facebook and measure the viral adoption. When the promotion is over, you will then know how many new users or customers you’ve adopted via this promotion as it runs through a social media application. The associated lift is your return on your marketing investment.
Build on Your Success
An early win will be critical to your social media success. Find something measurable that works, and use this as your blueprint for your next project. Celebrate your victory, give credit to all who participated and look for ways to replicate this model around your organization. The next piece in the puzzle is to drill down into the specific tasks to execute on this strategy, but we’ll save that for another column….