Category Archives: Corp Comms

5Ws to Community Management Part 1: Advisory Committees

This week, I spent some time listening to lawyers, regulatory folks and marketers share their struggles in terms of social media. Knowing the importance, yet not understanding how to overcome the fear and maybe even ignorance. As we polled members in the room of who was listening and monitoring social media, I was shocked at the number of hands not enthusiastically waving in the air. So, if you recognize the need, why haven’t you started?

For some, this world is scary, complicated and overwhelming. As communicators, it’s our job to make it feel fun, free, simple and yes, maybe even easy. But we know better. So, take the fundamentals of what you already know, and apply it to something that feels scary and a little risky. For me, it’s like knowing how to skateboard, and transitioning that to snowboarding.

In terms of community management, let’s take one piece and pair it with something we PR folks know best — the 5 Ws. Since we’ve talked a lot about external communications, I want to focus a little more on internal, employee communications – and how to get the right people in the room, at the right time. Internal buy-off is essential and will set the foundation for your success as a community manager or social media champion.

Who? Who makes up your social media council or advisory board? This is an incredibly difficult question, and it plays to several pieces – getting what you need and playing into the politics of your organization. You’ll struggle with people who want to be involved, because it’s seems fun and shiny, and then you’ll need others who are resistant.  As you think about your company’s divisions, be sure to include: corporate communications, PR, marketing, customer service, legal/regulatory, IT, and your advocacy or foundation folks, to name a few. This committee that you are working to create must be collaborative, and the key is that each person must have a willingness to take some level of risk.

What? What can you say and not say, do and not do? I’m a big fan of rules, after all, I was a criminal justice major. This point speaks to the need for guidance, both internally and externally. However, today, it goes beyond that. The trouble with guidance policies is that they can be too broad for those who are implementing content development and distribution, and engagement and relationship-building. Work with your SMAB to create a framework what content requires what path of review or sign-off. Also, outline the timeline for response. Social media is does not work on a 5-10 business day cycle, and if you’re working in that space, you shouldn’t either. You need to distribute the accountability to others, to ensure that it’s the most accurate, while also mitigating risk for your company, and even you.

When? When do you meet? When do you update guidelines? All your guidance policies and framework documents, or guiding parameters, are fluid. They will be updated and they need to be updated. I think a safe bet is a standing meeting with the core team to discuss things that are going well, things that aren’t twice a month. Also, guidance policies need to be updated at least twice a year. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be in frequent communications with the team. Since materials will require internal discussions, it’s likely that you’ll connect with at least 1-2 members of the committee once a week.

Where? Where will your presences be? And, bigger picture – where do you want to go? Have a vision for your engagement, have a purpose. Time and time again I’ve heard a variety of poor reasons to be engaged in social media – it’s free, someone else is doing it, everyone is talking about it. It makes me feel like I’m back in grade school – Lindsey has a new pair of Doc Martens and we find ourselves begging mom to head to the store that night for my very own! Except this time, social media isn’t a fad, and it’s not going away with the newest fashion trend. It’s changing the way we do business and we need to have a vision for what we want to achieve if we are going to succeed.

How? How are you going to achieve this? Social media isn’t free, because it takes resources and that means headcount. If you’re hiring an agency to do your social media engagement, have someone (maybe it’s you) to be the direct voice from the SMAB. Map out an action plan, and start small. It’s okay to start small. There’s no need to go out their guns blazing. Test the waters, see what works and understand that you will make mistakes.

Why? This is the hardest question, and I’ve caught myself asking this in the hardest moments. Why do this at all? Your answer can be, “Because I have to,” but it can’t end there. It’s how you finish that sentence that matters. I know that social media is a commitment, and yes, breaking down silos in your organization is frustrating and it’s hard work. Know your end goal, and know the impact that you’re making. Each person at your table might have their own reasons, but at least 1 of those, needs to be shared.

Does your company have a social media advisory board or something similar? If so, what have you experienced? Any tips?


Social at the Center of CSR


There’s a lot of discussion about what how and where does social media play into corporate social responsibility (CSR). Since Pepsi’s Refresh Project, we saw a shift in community expectations of CSR, moving away from simply reporting with hardbound books (ironic) and websites to community involvement. According to Chrysi Philalithes from the (RED) campaign, “70% of Americans think businesses can make more difference in the world than governments.” Companies have an opportunity to resonate with consumers and its global community, while making a lasting impact. The big step is to do it. But, how?

At its root, corporate social responsibility is grounded in community. With new tools and channels, this community has given light and voice to a larger collective – all possible because of social media. So, what does it take to take your CSR initiatives to the world of social media? I compiled a few thoughts and ideas below! Check it out and tell me what you think?

1. Commit. This step is crucial. If you can’t commit to CSR or social media, stop reading here. CSR is about long-term goals, plans, and a hope for a better future. This means that these efforts will take time, manpower and money.

2. Be human. The benefit of CSR is its ability to truly humanize your brand. Our community (online and offline) expect companies to be good citizens, to do the right thing. If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you don’t know, find the answer. If you need help, ask.

3. Listen. Find out what your audience needs and assess if your existing corporate initiatives are truly prioritized appropriately. If you’re donate laptops but the community really needs to focus on infrastructure, how can you readjust to put the needs of the community first. Or, use social media to ask the tough questions. When Starbucks opened up a feedback mechanism to ask for consumer help, they were welcomed and the feedback shared was constructive. The key is doing something about it …

4. Do. A shift has occurred in CSR, away from pulling out our wallets, and more about getting our hands dirty. So yes, CSR takes money, but we can’t simply stop at signing a check or matching a donation. CSR offers employees the ability to engage with consumers in a deeper way. furthermore, companies will be held more accountable for their promises. If consumer feedback says to reduce the amount of plastic in your packaging, the expectation is that you will investigate options and work to fulfill this request.

5. Communicate. Social media allows us to communicate a company’s great work, however it goes beyond simply pushing messages. Today, we’re able to ask for feedback, respond to constituent questions and build trust through transparency, and work to rally a community around a common cause – all through social media.

What are your thoughts on social media and CSR? What do you think is the company that’s doing it the best?

Other resources that might be helpful:
Tying Together Social Media and Corporate Social Responsibility (Via Jay Baer)
Corporate Social Responsibility (via Mashable)

PS – This is my first post from my ipad…  not sure that it won’t be my last. 🙂

Title Wars: 10 Tips for Managing Peers

Courtesy of gantthead.comTitle Wars have been an ongoing struggle for me in my career. It’s frustrating, time-consuming, stressful and to be honest — crap. Regardless of what level you are, from entry to middle to senior to c-suite, treating people with respect should be foundational in your practice. So you ask, where did this all come from? I’m not sure. It’s probably a cumulation of interoffice discussions, client calls, volunteer positions and dating all the way back to my wee childhood years when I was told, “You’re too young for that.” So here I am, rebelling and saying, “No, actually I can.”

At this week’s KC/IABC Business Communicators Summit, I attended a session from a friend and mentor on managing your peers. Overall, it was a great session that challenged each of us to take a deep look at ourselves, how we’re working with others and how we can grow from these character-building situations. Based on what I learned at BCS and a few key takeaways from my own personal experience, here is a top 10 list of how to manage your peers and direct reports.

  1. Define roles and responsibilities at the get-go.
  2. Remember that each person brings their own value and they deserve your respect.
  3. Demeaning and degrading someone only makes you look like an ass.
  4. Arrogance doesn’t get people too far. Spend more time focused on others and  how you can help than talking about yourself. Newsflash, you are not better than anyone else.
  5. Respect people’s time. Don’t interrupt, don’t waste time in meetings and don’t do drive-by conversations.
  6. Think before you open your mouth. Communications is a simple idea, but hard in practice. Think about how your words impact others.
  7. Set people up for success and be authentic in your desire to help them learn and grow.
  8. Recognize and thank people. It goes so far.
  9. Keep in mind that someone who might be your peer now, might be someone you report to or work with 10 years from now. Don’t burn a bridge you might need to cross later.
  10. Invest time in people. Know your peer network and those around and within it. You’ll always be surprised of what you can get out of the desire to learn.

What are your tips for managing peers?

2011 – The Year of Social CRM

The conversation of social CRM has been a topic of conversation for the past two years, and I only foresee that the conversation will grow even more so in 2011. Hell, even the University of Toronto held a three-day course on Social CRM. I was passed along a great article by Houston Neal, of Software Advice, entitled “Social CRM Doesn’t Exist, But a Need Does.” As I was reading through, I couldn’t help but agree. Yes Houston – we do have a problem.

Internally, organizations are debating philosophical differences between what is sCRM, confusing it with what can be deemed as eCRM. However, sCRM is so much more – and can lead to more than eCRM can ever achieve. Like Houston shares, there are social monitoring tools, social analytics tools, CRM specialty software solutions and engagement platforms. He shares a great graphic of the tools here.

Today, we don’t have a tool that does all of this – but we also don’t have a 100% solution for each of the breakouts either. No tool does it all. And the reality, I’m not sure we’ll ever get to that point. However, we need to build out more than a tool, but a comprehensive plan that reaches maximum integration of research, analysis, engagement and measurement.

Why Social CRM is different.

Our consumers consume information different, leveraging social channels to learn about what’s important to them. They’re savvy and they expect brands to listen and engage. Social consumers hold the power, and in order for us to reach her, we need to earn her trust.

Paul Greenberg, and author and leading authority on SCRM, stated that Social CRM is “…designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide a mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company response to the customer’s owning of the relationship.” (from Mashable)

What this means?

Organizations need to integrate internally, to be in lock-step externally. This means outlining guidance, conducting training and outlining engaging. Social CRM forces organization challenges to be addressed. Customer service, marketing, PR, sales force and R&D all need to talk to each other and work together. However, even before that, we need to have clear objectives. And so, another key component is …

A Strong Strategy with Measureables. Clearly outline your objective with engaging and ensure that everyone in the organization understands this. Furthermore, without a unified mission, no singular goal will ever be accomplished.

And now that you’re committed, set out a clear process. The process map should start at research and listening, through analytics and even further to discuss key learnings. Below is a high level process map, but a more detailed user flow is also essential. What is the engagement, who do we engage internally, how do we engage and what do we engage with?

Define the channels for engagement, based on where your customers are. Conduct intensive research to know who your customers are – their environment, their habits, their struggles. Then, find meaningful ways to engage with them, where they are, and in the most authentic way.

What are your thoughts on social CRM? Know a company that’s doing it well?

Does Your Site Have a Privacy Policy?

In the days where I wanted to be an attorney, I never dreamed of writing legal disclaimers, terms of use or privacy statements. I should have known better. So, it’s funny that I’m working on this language today.  In all seriousness, privacy statements and terms of use are essential to a brand’s engagement online, especially for those operating in regulated industries. These are especially important in today – where consumers fear the selling of their personal information and scrutinize companies for doing so. I found this infographic (and who doesn’t love an infographic) analyzing 1,000 privacy statements from various company websites. Check it out…

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alengo

Does your company’s online platforms have privacy policies and terms of use?