This post represents Part 2 of a series covering the insights shared by Chris Brogan, Charlene Li, David Meerman Scott, and Martin Giles (moderator) on The Business Value Behind Social Media (part of The Premier Business Leadership Series presented by SAS). Part 1 provided an Executive Summary of the hour-long panel discussion.
The panel discusses the characteristics of model organizations currently succeeding in social media implementation and management. Common success factors describing these companies included:
* Social Media Guidelines and Employee Rules of Engagement
* Process Discipline
* Open Leadership (the rules for playing in the social media sandbox as explained by Charlene Li)
* Goals (e.g., defining the business outcome the individual organization wants to achieve with social media)
The summary of key takeaways pertains to 3:33 to 15:38 of the embedded video.
Companies Succeeding in Social Media Established Employee Guidelines and Processes for Customer Engagement
The US Air Force and Guidelines (3:33 - 5:08). All 30,000 members are allowed to participate in social media. The establishment of guidelines and a structure for interaction were key success factors. David references a favorite quote from from a high ranking officer about giving Air Force Team Members the opportunity to engage in social media: "If we trust them with a $300 million airplane, why can't we trust them on Facebook?
CitiBank and Defining a Process First (5:11 - 6:45). Charlene describes how the key learning from here is the importance of establishing and putting a process in place first. This process should define the employee interaction with customers via social media. Defining the process provides senior management (especially the legal department) with a level of reassurance. Establishing this process is especially important if the company is engaging in social media for the first time.
Dell Corporation's Uses Twitter as a $6 Million Revenue Generator (6:46 - 7:30). Chris liked how Dell started using the Web initially as a means of deploying customer service. This initiative eventually morphed into IdeaStorm which is their collaboration forum to share ideas on new products and services that customers would like Dell to develop. He also noted how Dell generated $6 million in revenues for bargain hardware via Twitter.
The Confidence to Let Employees Engage Customers
Open Leadership - The Sandbox Covenant (7:57 - 8:45). Charlene says "open leadership" is your company's definition of how "open you will be." It's important for companies to define what are the filters for communication because no company can be completely open - that's unrealistic. But, the companies using social media effectively have defined their social media strategy and set up the rules of customer engagement within that strategy. If you don't provide the discipline and structure, you're leaving open the possibility of anything happening online.
The Use of 1st-Person Singular in Online Communications (8:48 - 9:37). Something David has seen work effectively is implementing a guideline asking employees to express their views in the manner of "I believe" or "I think" to show the employee isn't speaking directly on behalf of the company. The fear of companies is they now have 1000 company spokespeople. Far from it. What they now have is 1000 employees directly communicating with customers.
Preventing Chaos - Deploy Social Media Gradually and Define Goals
Starbucks and Its Gradual Release of Social Media (10:02 - 10:57). Charlene says Starbucks is one of her favorite examples because its small team successfully and gradually deployed the company's social media strategy. According to her book, Open Leadership, the Starbucks' social media team consists of six (6) people: two (2) community managers who directly interact with people and four (4) programmers and support people.
The book also describes how Starbucks chose a more centralized approach at the corporate level for selected channels (i.e., Facebook, Twitter). According to Alexandra Wheeler, Starbucks' Director of Digital Strategy, the goal is to eventually give their thousands of baristas freedom to operate in social media "but not until the right structures and training are in place to ensure a consistent customer experience."
IBM and Goal Definition (10:58 - 11:54). Chris spoke about how IBM started out as "1000 flowers blooming," but it eventually found a way to purposefully harness their social media activity. They did it by asking what's the goal:
* Enhance customer service?
* Generate more revenue?
* Be more promotional?
* Build more awareness to our sales funnel via lead generation?
* Is our purpose related to B2C or B2B?
The Zappos Model Isn't Right for Everyone
Determine the Appropriate Level of Openness for Your Individual Company (12:18 - 12:58). Chris points out that the Zappos Way isn't for everybody because that model exposes an organization to be in "situations filled with opinions." And for a lot of companies, these are situation they don't feel comfortable operating in.
Ask Who and How Should Employees be Engaging (13:00 - 13:56). David says companies engaging in social media shouldn't assume that every employee wants to participate. Employees shouldn't feel forced or obligated to communicate this way. In his opinion, he talked about how there's probably a specific personality profile for people who enjoy engaging in social media. Therefore, if you have these folks in your organization, encourage them to be part of the online conversation.
How Best Buy's Twelpforce Personally Engaged Charlene Li (13:57 - 15:11). Twelpforce enables around 2,400 Best Buy employees to share their electronics expertise directly with customers. These employees use Twitter to converse directly with customers by answering questions usually asked everyday on the store floor.
Charlene personally tried out this service to better understand what's the best phone with parental controls that she could purchase for her 11-year old son. A Twelpforce team member replied back with an Android phone recommendation and asked her to stop by the store that Saturday so they could evaluate phones together. Essentially, someone on the store floor reached out to her and said: "I'd like to build a customer relationship with you." This type of innovative initiative gives Best Buy a competitive advantage especially over Wal-Mart, Target, or any of the phone carriers.
The biggest fear of large organizations when it comes to social media is their loss of control. Their customers now have low-cost tools (e.g. social media channels) that can influence the outcome and perception of the most elaborate and sophisticated advertising campaign.
However, the organizations described by Charlene, Chris, and David are prime examples of companies who have successfully implemented guidelines, procedures, processes, and goals so their employees can directly engage these customers. And, it's that customer engagement that enables their employees to positively influence customers who not only purchase their company's products and services but are also Blogging, Tweeting, Liking, Sharing, and Digging about these offerings as well.
Please stay tuned for next Saturday's Edition of The Business Behind Social Media, Part 3: Lessons From Wal-Mart and The Importance of Failing Well.
Bonus Section: Additional Links
The US Airforce and Guidelines from Web Ink Now
* The US Air Force Armed With Social Media
* The US Air Force and Social Media: A Discussion With Colonel Michael Caldwell
* Launching Ideas at The US Air Force
* Free Social Media eBook and Video: New Media & The Air Force
IBM's Participation in Social Media Covered in Web Ink Now
Altimeter Group and Wet Paint Report on Starbucks and Other Social Media Case Studies
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.