CIOs: Creating a Plan for Engaging with Social Media

Part 2 of our series, What CIOs Need to Know About Social Media.

A post on Mashable from a year and a half ago is still relevant to enterprise CIOs grappling with the impact of social media on the enterprise. In the post, Lon S. Cohen lists seven things CIOs should be considering. We’re taking a closer look at each of the item in Cohen’s framework. In this blog, we continue our closer look at Cohen’s first item.

  • Web 2.0 Content and Presentation Standards
  • Review and Approval Processes
  • Managing Corporate Reputation
  • Versions and Update Controls
  • Impact On Operating Environment
  • Establishing Project Priority
  • Compliance

Web 2.0 Content and Presentation Standards, part 2

Creating a social media engagement plan starts with understanding your community – your audience, which might include employees, partners, prospects, customers, and the general public. Ensure that your plan covers the following topics, excerpted from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (being slowly syndicated via this blog):

      • Guiding principles— Lay out your target audiences, target outcomes, what you are offering, your key messages and success metrics. Example guiding principles:
        • Relationships sustain our community. Nurture them.
        • Action is more important than endless discussion
        • Our members are at the center of our community, and control its development
      • Channels— Determine how you’re going to use complementary on- and offline channels (print, TV, other social networks, ads, etc.) to let people know about and get them to contribute to your community. Examples of complementary channel use:
        • Include your social media presence in PSAs
        • Link your Facebook status to Twitter
        • Run a print promotion for a Facebook-based event
      • Activities— What kinds of actions can your community members take on your site and elsewhere? You’ll want to make these actions easy to find and easy to accomplish. Design your calls to action and the high-value interactions you are trying to encourage accordingly. Examples of activities:
        • Tell a friend
        • Like your Facebook page
        • Invite a friend to an event
      • Incentives— Consider offering prizes, points, rebates and other benefits to community members who visit, contribute, or help other members use the site. Examples of incentives:
        • Special achievement badges members can display on their blogs
        • Two-for-one admission to your next event
        • Enter those who comment in a prize drawing
      • Roles and responsibilities— Determine who is responsible for content creation, animation, promotion, outreach, tech support and other functions. Design the production and approval workflows. Ensure that all participants are well-informed about this process. Example roles and responsibilities:
        • Management funds the social media effort
        • The community manager manages social day-to-day activities
        • Outreach crafts the messages for distribution via social media
      • Messages— Well in advance of launch of your social media effort, draft all the on-site and e-mail messages you’re likely to need as you get started. Example messages:
        • Use AddThis[1] to add the ability for Website visitors to comment about you on social media
        • Embed YouTube videos on your Website and ask for comments
        • Include announcement of your social media effort in email newsletters
      • Timeline — Any well-run project needs a plan that specifies what gets done when. Be sure to include all activities, including a periodic evaluation of success metrics
      • Do’s and don’ts— Create a style guide for your staff to use in order to present a consistent voice. Be sure to address at least the following:
        • How often will the content be updated and posted to social media sites?
        • What type of content will be posted (topics, categories)?
        • How and who will approve content?
        • How will the site look? How is your logo to be displayed? What is the color palette?
        • How will you ensure the site is usable? Accessible (Section 508 compliant)?
        • How will you launch? We recommend a gradual, soft launch so you have time to work out the kinks.
        • How will you collect and safeguard Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?[2]
          • Does the site have privacy and legal disclaimers? What kinds of content need legal review? What legal jurisdictions do you need to take into account?
          • Ages of community members? Do they need to be 18 or over? How do you filter out the kids?

There’s a lot more about pre-launch activities in the Community Building Checklist section in our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises. a soup-to-nuts, strategy to execution processes, procedures and how-to advice manual. The book (itself part of a series for different audiences), is available in paper form at save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

Tomorrow: a deeper dive on the second element, Review and Approval Processes in the post CIO’s Social Media Review and Approval Processes.

[1] AddThis:

[2] Definition:

What CIOs Need to Know About Social Media

A post on Mashable from a year and a half ago is still relevant to enterprise CIOs grappling with the impact of social media on the enterprise. In the post, Lon S. Cohen lists seven things CIOs should be considering. In a series of blogs, we’ll take a closer look at each of the item in Cohen’s framework.

But first, ask yourself, “How am I doing on the following?”

  • Web 2.0 Content and Presentation Standards
  • Review and Approval Processes
  • Managing Corporate Reputation
  • Versions and Update Controls
  • Impact On Operating Environment
  • Establishing Project Priority
  • Compliance

In this post, we take a closer look at the first item.

Web 2.0 Content and Presentation Standards, part 1

If you’re not setting standards in your organization, you better get after it. Whether sanctioned or not, your employees are representing your company on social media, if only inadvertently. You need a social media policy at the very minimum to guide the official (and unofficial) social media activities of your employees. You also need a style guide; Cohen’s post talks about such details as font styles, type size, color schemes, and placement of corporate logos and slogans, but there is a lot more to do, including establishing goals for social media and creating a social engagement plan.

All of these mandates and guidelines should follow from your understanding of how social media can benefit your enterprise. Some points to ponder from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (being slowly syndicated via this blog – see the first post: Why Social Media?):

  • Identification of problems, opportunities and issues — Use social media community to keep a pulse on your market
  • Policy consultation — Get your community’s opinion on the direction of your organization, or about desired policy changes in governance
  • Customer service and service delivery — Find out what you’re doing right, and wrong, and how you can improve your service to your clients
  • Marketing and communications — Inform your community about significant activities of your enterprise or related entities in close to real-time (Twitter) or through regular updates (Facebook, blogging)

Notice how we list marketing last? That’s right. It’s one of the least important things you can do with social media (more on that in a future blog).

Before you launch any social media initiative, you should understand and plan:[1]

  • Goals — What and why? Participation?
  • Outcomes — How does this support your business?
  • Target Audience — Who?
  • Research — What is possible?
  • Pilot — What small piece can you implement first as a pilot? What will you learn and apply to full plan?
  • Training — Does anyone need to be trained in order to implement?
  • Capacity — Who will implement? Outside expertise needed? Training?
  • Culture Change — Once you have an initial plan, how do you get the enterprise to own it? How do you deal with resistance? How do you deal with legal department?
  • Implementation — Who needs to know when problems arise? What about ongoing training and support?
  • Evaluation — How will you know if you were successful? What did you learn?

After you’ve figured all this out, create an operating manual based on these policies and procedures and distribute it to all stakeholders.

You should also create a plan for engaging with social media. That’s the topic for tomorrow’s post, CIO’s Social Media Review and Approval Processes.

For soup-to-nuts, strategy to execution processes, procedures and how-to advice, see our book, Be a Person: the Social Media Operating Manual for Enterprises. The book (itself part of a series for different audiences), is available in paper form at save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

[1] After Chris Brogan, as modified by We Are Media:

First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy

This is the fifth in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Media Operating Manual for Enterprises. The book (itself part of a series for different audiences), is available in paper form at save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

See the previous posts What is Social Media?, Social Sites Defined, Why Social Media? and How is Social Media Relevant to Business?

First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy

“Social Media Performance Group’s motto is: No Tools Before Rules.

We believe that before you use any powerful tool, you should not only find out its capabilities and dangers, but also create a plan for its use.
Beginning to use social media without a strategy would be like
tossing the keys of your SUV to your 10-year-old.”

Social Media Performance Group

The Social Media Performance Group strategy process begins with an enterprise social media readiness assessment. You need to understand how ready your staff, leadership, board, and other stakeholders are to make the changes that will be necessary to embrace social computing.

Although you may not realize it at the planning stage, success­fully implementing social media to support your strategies will require organizational changes, some large, some small, and some that may be upsetting or controversial. For example, if you’re a business that has a strict command and control hierarchy where every external communication is approved at a high level, you’ll need to change to be able to fully leverage social
media. The legal department of one enterprise we know recently approved 40 tweets. Yeah, that’ll work.

If the idea Be a Person scares you, you’ll need to do some organizational transformation before social media is right for you.

Of course, not all businesses are ready for social computing. In fact there are some who have ingrained styles and tendencies that will make
adopting social media impossible, if not actually detrimental. How can you tell if your business is one of them?

Top Ten Signs You Should Avoid Social Media

Lisa Barone, Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, put together a somewhat humorous collection [1] of indicators of organizational dysfunction that would make adopting social computing a risky business. We’ve adapted and expanded them in the following list.

You have no social skills (and don’t want to fake them)

If your organization has problems relating with staff, customers, or other stakeholders, those problems are likely to be magnified by using social computing. Be honest with yourself when assessing your organiz­ation’s readiness to openly relate with a large group of your stakeholders.

You have no sense of humor/can’t handle criticism

A sense of humor often doesn’t make it onto the list of things to consider about social computing, but it should. If your organization gets stirred up by the least little bit of criticism, or has a habit of mis­interpreting humorous comments, think twice before adopting social media. Using social media means you are opening yourself up to unvarnished dialog with both your supporters and your detractors. If you don’t think you can handle it, social computing is not for you.

You’re going to forget about it in the morning

Social computing takes a commitment. It can’t be a start and stop kind of thing. Once you engage with your community, you aren’t going to be able to go back to ignoring them. So be sure you have a long-term, sustainable commitment to social computing before venturing forth.

Openness is a problem for you

This one is pretty much self-explanatory. If your org­an­iz­­ational style emphasizes secrecy, security, and a lack of sharing, you’re not going to succeed with social computing. Ask yourself what you’re hiding, and why, and whether you can open up before getting involved with social media.

You’re only there to sell

If you think social computing is just about selling, or marketing, or pushing messages into just another media channel, better to forget it. Remember that social media involves relationships and two-way conversation, and that you must respect your comm­unity’s point of view to be successful. You should also be wary if your leadership plans on having others masquerade as them online. Social media is about trans­parency, not facades.

You view social media as a numbers game

This is a common attitude toward social media. You see it on LinkedIn among the LIONs (There’s more on that in the What is a LinkedIn LION ™? section) The number of followers on social media is generally not what your business should concentrate on. The quality of your interactions with your community is vastly more important than the quantity.

You sometimes resort to name calling

We decided to edit this one. Barone’s original number 7 was: You’re inclined to call people’s wives “douchettes.” Apparently, a CEO actually did call some­one’s wife a douchette, [2] although not online. Nevertheless, if your business has folks in it who might be inclined to disparage others, think twice about bringing this sort of thing to social computing.

You think Twitter is a social media strategy

We hope you know by now that we think you shouldn’t get into social computing without first understanding how it can support your organization’s strategy, and without creating a social media strategy to guide your usage. There are lots of consultants out there that think putting together a Twitter campaign, or a Facebook page, or a few YouTube videos is a great way to get started with social media. Tell that to Motrin.

You don’t have a “social” culture

There are lots of signs of an anti-social-computing culture. The tendency to run everything by the lawyers. Endless rounds of revisions with final approval by top executives. A prohibition of social media site usage while at work. Blocking YouTube. Some of these tendencies can be overcome, and some might be enough to indicate problems with social computing acceptance. If your general organizational culture emphasizes tightly controlling the message, you’re not likely to succeed with social media.

You don’t have permission

In Barone’s list, this item refers to staff who attempt to speak for the business without authorization, but we turn this around a little bit to mean, “Can you give your stakeholders permission to represent your business?” When you think about it, your staff, customers, and other stakeholders DO represent your business, every day, and can work on your behalf. But it’s sometimes a hard step for an organization to let go enough to enable them to do the same on social media. Be sure you can let go before engaging with social media.

Do a Quick Survey of Your Stakeholders

To help determine if you’re ready for social media, a social computing assessment can identify those who will embrace social computing, and who will resist. It also helps identify those who are willing but need training on how to use social computing.

The assessment can be done online using the Social Media Performance Group’s free Social Media Readiness Survey[3] or via pen and paper using the version reproduced on page 55.

Do a Quick Survey of Your Customers

It is important to know what customers and prospects already know about social media so you can target your efforts to their ability to respond online. If your target audience is largely offline, you will want to use social media inside your company rather than externally.

It’s important to realize that, due to socio-economic diff­erences, many groups may not have regular access to social computing, which obviously can significantly alter your strategy in engaging them online. In your survey, you may want to segment prospects and customers by socio-economic status, which may affect how easily you can reach them via social media.

If your audience doesn’t have computer-based online access, you may be able to reach them online via their mobile phones. In this case, you should consider using the Social Media Performance Group’s free Mobile Social Media Use Survey. [4] The survey can also be found in the second part of the Social Media Performance Group Social Media Readiness Survey™, reproduced in the next section, and live at:

After your survey is done, take a look at the results and divide the respondents into at least two groups: those who are likely to respond to social media, and those who probably won’t. You’ll need to base your social media plans on the com­position of these groups. If, for example, the non-social-media group represents the majority of your stakeholders, you may want to consider educational approaches to help them learn about the benefits of social media. On the other hand, if the social-media-using group is large, you may want to consider more-sophisticated approaches to identify and enable your supporters via social media.

Assess Related Businesses

Identify closely-related businesses and partners you deal with on a regular basis, especially those with similar or com­plementary missions, particularly in your region. Find out what they are doing with social media. Not only might this give you ideas for your own approach, you may be able to team up with them to help further your social media reach.

Up next: Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing

Want to read the whole book? Order at and save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

Outspoken Media provides online marketing services. Barone’s list is at:

Hear the audio at:

SMPG’s Social Media Readiness Survey:

Social Media Performance Group’s Mobile Social Media Use Survey: