Eight Components for Social Media Success, #1 – Strategy and Business Objectives
In previous posts, Strategy and Planning for Online Community and The Missing 8th Component of the Seven Components of Successful Community, I describe the eight components any social media initiative needs to be successful. Over the next few weeks I’m going to explore each of the eight components in detail.
Some will say there are five components, some will say there are eleven, but the consensus is that regardless of how many components and how they are organized, the appropriate strategy and planning greatly increases the probability of success. My Eight Components for Social Media Success are:
1) Strategy and Business Objectives
2) Membership Identification and Acquisition Plan
3) Content / Programming Plan
4) Community Management Plan
5) Communication Plan
6) Moderation Plan
7) Tools and Rollout Plan
8) Social Media Knowledge and Expertise
In the graphic below you will notice that Strategy and Business Objectives, and Membership Identification and Acquisition Plan are grouped above the rest of the components. This is because these two components need to be completed before you can start working on the rest. Similarly, Tools & Rollout Plan is below the rest because the others must be completed (or close to it) before you can determine what tools and functionality are required to support the initiative.
Today I’ll dive into more detail of the Strategy and Business Objectives component.
Strategy & Business Objectives
Usually done iteratively and in parallel with Membership Identification and Acquisition Plan, the Strategy and Business Objectives component is the foundation for the social media initiative. The following items need to be identified and documented (as applicable):
- Vision: An overview of the social media initiative and how it aligns with corporate or departmental strategy. In effect, a social media initiative charter statement.
- Goals and Objectives: Statement of the business and financial goals and objectives. It is extremely important to make sure that the goals and objectives of different stakeholders align. Although each may have their own valid goals and objectives for the social media initiative, their goals and objectives may not align with the goals and objectives of other stakeholders. In identifying each stakeholder’s goals and objectives, it will become apparent if they are miss-aligned. Make sure all stakeholders understand and agree to the goals and objectives of the initiative.
- (ROI): ROI is included in this component, including hard ROI (if measurable based on the scope of the initiative and available data), measurement (typical web and social media measurements), as well as soft (such as like reputation, voice of the conversation).
- Documentation: Documentation applicable to the social media initiative. This may include existing social media guidelines or policies, communications policies, or published web practices and security procedures.
- Ownership & Roles: Identification stakeholders, owners (of content, web properties, this social media initiative, existing social media activities,…). Also includes current roles and responsibilities as related to community initiative.
- Procedures and Processes: What is the change management process for getting changes to the web properties? What are the procedures for getting approval of content? Definition of the change management process for modifications for this social media initiative. (May require initial identification of possible internal and external content sources and repositories. Deep identification of possible internal and external content sources is done in the Content / Programming Plan component.)
- Decision Making: Who is responsible for decisions regarding the social media initiative? Includes decision makers not just for the initial phases, but also the decision makers ongoing. If applicable, internal processes such as content approval need to be identified documented, and modified if necessary to meet the needs of the social media initiative.
Conduct an Analysis
After the items above have been identified and documented, analysis to determine if the current state will support the social media initiative as it is, or (more likely) what changes are required. This is an important step that many organizations bypass as they charge down the path to launching their social media project – however, doing so is a step towards failure of the social media initiative. There are many reasons why, but I will give you just one example…
Content Process Example
Let’s look at an example of a company’s current content approval process. The current process for internally created content to be approved for external use starts with 1) content created by the author, which is 2) passed to an editor or manager for modification and approval, then forwarded to 3) HR for compliance approval, which is then passed to 4) legal for approval, and is finally provided to 5) whoever publishes on whatever medium. The process from start to finish takes three to four weeks and has to be completed before any content can be released.
When responding to a hot topic within an online community (such as a product issue), communication has to be almost instantaneous. Given the current content approval process of the example company, three to four weeks to respond is unacceptable. This indicates that the content approval process needs to be modified to support the social media initiative, or a process specific to social media content needs to be defined.
A Good Social Media Initiative Foundation
In a software development project, where time spent flushing out the business and functional requirements before beginning development greatly reduces code rework and testing time, and increases the probability that the software will meet the business need. Likewise, spending time and resources on Strategy and Business Objectives will lay a good foundation for your social media initiative, and increase the probability that the initiative will meet your business need.
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