Create an External Social Computing Strategy is the ninth 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 http://bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV
From here on out, the chapters get a little long, so we’ll break them into smaller pieces.
See the previous posts What is Social Media?, Social Sites Defined, Why Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1
Create an External Social Computing Strategy
Create an external strategy to:
- Communicate with prospects and customers
- Recruit new evangelists and influencers
- Create a network of partners to multiply the effect of your own sales and marketing efforts
It is becoming well-accepted that today’s social-media-savvy users do not respond as readily as they once did to pushed marketing messages (TV, radio, newspapers, magazine advertising). Social media transforms an old sales platitude — “People do not like to be sold, but they love to buy” — into “People love buying from their friends. Make someone your friend and they will buy from you.”
The advertising industry knows this, according to the Chief Creative Officer of the world’s 4th largest ad agency, Craig Davis of J. Walter Thompson:
Audiences everywhere are tough. They don’t have time to be bored or brow-beaten by orthodox, old-fashioned advertising. We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are interested in.
So it’s likely that your average prospect is barraged daily with appeals and pitches, which they can become quite adept at ignoring. Social media, on the other hand, creates value by fostering a relationship with an organization and a brand, rather than creating another loud member of a clamoring crowd.
A social computing strategy has become a must, particularly for large enterprises, and incorporating social media into an organization’s overall strategy ensures that social media becomes an integrated driver of relationships, brand loyalty, and sales, rather than a less-effective afterthought.
Social Media Performance Group Approach
Our approach to creating a social computing strategic plan is designed to first and foremost integrate with your organization’s strategic goals. We believe attacking a point opportunity (“Let’s do some tweets about our new product”) or a tactical implementation (“Let’s drive traffic to our YouTube client testimonials”) without alignment with your enterprise’s strategy not only misses much of the value social media can bring to an organization, but also risks becoming counterproductive.
In addition, if all social media efforts are not coordinated with clear objectives and metrics, your organization runs the risk of wasting money and effort and losing effectiveness.
We lay out the elements of a successful approach to a social computing strategy in the sections that follow.
Review Business Strategy
As a first step, as we’ve indicated in previous sections, conduct a review of your enterprise’s strategy, goals, and implementation plans to ensure alignment of the social media strategy. Next, work with your organization’s senior leaders to create an enterprise-wide strategic blueprint. Determine how social media will support your operations, employees, sales, service delivery, and so on.
During this process, you should examine all the potential social media touch points for your enterprise, both internally and externally. We suggest you look beyond the usual suspects when thinking about how social media can help your company.
Who are the usual suspects? Typically, the leading purveyors of social media solutions in businesses of all sizes are public relations and marketing, and it’s likely the same for your organization. The 2009 Digital Readiness Report, found that PR and Marketing lead the vast majority of social media engagements inside businesses of all types and sizes:
- In 51 percent of businesses, PR leads digital communications compared to 40.5 percent where marketing leads
- PR is responsible for blogging at 49 percent of all businesses vs. marketing’s 22 percent
- PR is responsible for micro-blogging (think Twitter) at 52 percent of all businesses vs. 22 percent for marketing, for a combined 74 percent
We think this state of affairs misses the point of social media, which, for us, is about relationships between people, not pushing PR and marketing messages.
Social media expert and author David Meerman Scott says:
At every one of my speeches, I say PR people are spammers. That gets everyone’s attention so I have an opportunity to explain what I mean … I get several hundred unsolicited press releases and PR pitches every week. Well over 99% of them are not targeted to me, instead they are sent to me because I am on various PR people’s lists …
Scott is far from being alone in this situation. Way back in 2006, writer Tom Foremski called for the death of the press release:
Press releases are nearly useless. They typically start with a tremendous amount of top-spin, they contain pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes. Often they will contain quotes from C-level executives praising their customer focus. They often contain praise from analysts, (who are almost always paid or have a customer relationship.) And so on…
Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists.
This madness has to end. It is wasted time and effort by hundreds of thousands of professionals.
With all due respect to PR professionals, the typical public relations approach is to scatter a million seeds, hoping some will find fertile ground. From their perspective, this makes sense. From a recipient’s perspective, it doesn’t. Those who groan under the load of all the messages wonder why you don’t know them better. Why can’t you establish at least a profile, and at best a relationship, so you understand what they want and are interested in?
The answer is because public relations has never had a tool that enables relationships. They’ve got a seed-scatterer.
The cool thing is social media provides a better way: relationships not messages. The further cool thing is you’ve got people all over your organization who can create relationships. PR professional Todd Defren responded to Foremski’s cry to kill the PR by creating a template for a social media press release. That’s a good start, but using this tool with a standard PR distribution system still misses the point.
Our point is that, no matter how enlightened they may be about social media, letting the PR and marketing folks in your enterprise dominate your social media use, might cause you to miss lots of places where social media can contribute to your organization, and as a result, you’ll scatter a lot of seeds on fallow ground.
Enterprises that have understood the real potential use social media inside and outside their organizations successfully. When we help enterprises realize the value of social media, we do this based on our proprietary Enterprise Social Media Framework™ (ESMF). The ESMF maps your organization’s structure to social media best practices and includes dozens of illustrative case studies pulled from the experiences of non-profit and for-profit organizations from all over the world. Insights derived from the ESMF help enterprises fully utilize the potential of social media.
Figure 5 — A small section of the Case Studies area of SMPG’s ESMF
You can contact us if you’re interested in learning more about ESMF. Otherwise, take a look at what has been successful for enterprises like yours and think about how the advantages of social media can help you beyond PR and marketing.
Finally, decide which opportunities to address first, and develop implementation plans.
Comprehensive Strategic Approach
We propose that you take a comprehensive approach in which you:
- Analyze the competition — Ensure that your enterprise is positioned to succeed against competitors’ efforts
- Create a comprehensive social media strategy — Develop a social media strategy that is intimately bound to your objectives and current implementations
- Create a social media tactical plan and structure— Be sure to iterate out all implementation details to create a turnkey social media infrastructure including:
- A community space on your organization’s Website where users can comment
- A facility to capture client reviews, suggestions, and testimonials
- Presence on all relevant social media sites along with tactical plans for using them
- A model for involving partners in coordinating social media campaigns
- Social media monitoring services
- Ensure social media training for your enterprise — You’ll need to assess and train your organization as well as designating community manager(s) and others who will implement your tactics. If you’re interested, you can outsource ongoing community management and other social media execution to Social Media Performance Group, or we can train your staff to fulfill these functions.
Integrate Search with the Social Media Strategy
Social media must be integrated with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. Your enterprise may not be involved with such efforts at this point. That may be a mistake. SEM and SEO are critical to the success of any Website these days.
With recent moves by Google to index Facebook and Twitter, social media’s influence on online search is accelerating to the point that leading-edge firms are increasingly talking about a new term, Social Search Optimization (SSO). 
All your Websites should follow good Search Engine Optimization processes, so you should review current practices and determine how social media interacts with SEO. Among the areas that you should address are page content, titles and metadata, content positioning, underlying codebase, site navigation, sitemap, and URL structure.
Create and implement a Social Search Optimization strategy, including identifying keywords and analyzing competitive sites.
Up next: Writing Your Social Media Strategy
 Just one example of the many articles and studies that support this: SocialTimes’ How to Connect With Your Employees Using Social Media, Email and Some Common Sensebit.ly/9o1vnP
 Fournaise Marketing Group, bit.ly/bAkvPe bit.ly/dmwcg9
 Exist.com: bit.ly/kj6p4l
 Produced by iPressroom, a hosted content management software platform, with support from the Public Relations Society of America: bit.ly/djp0cw
 Foremski’s Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die! bit.ly/nwPtwB
 Some Social Search Optimization resources: slidesha.re/dTdBDMslidesha.re/dQ68z3 slidesha.re/igunmG
 Crash the Superbowl: bit.ly/hAlYld
 See the definition of badges on page 20
 Source: Facebook bit.ly/9fE4qn
 Facebook Mobile: on.fb.me/bpiCmQ
 Ground Truth is a mobile computing research firm: bit.ly/caaE65
 Ruder Finn is a public relations firm: bit.ly/djlLb8