Let’s Be Realistic
A newborn baby can’t be expected to drive to the store to pick up some milk. Even if you really need milk. There are a host of reasons why: the kid can’t even hold his head up (for one), no WAY those legs will reach the pedals, and he’s got a complete inability to comprehend (never mind PASS) the driver’s license test. The baby is – in other words – a baby.
As a result, if you’re asking a baby to go buy the milk…well, the problem isn’t with the baby. It’s with you (and your expectations). Setting expectations and priorities correctly based on the reality of current abilities is integral to success. As an added bonus, you’ll save yourself and your organization from a ton of (costly) accidents.
Why so much pressure to be social? We work with clients to define “how does social make sense (and solve problems) for us”. One of the compelling ideas we invariably cover is the cause of the pressure. Yes, the reality of the constantly connected consumer is [relatively] new. But this “always on” customer is disrupting the traditional sales cycle, adding additional expectations for responsiveness in service and support, and generally forcing business leadership to consider change at the risk of their market share.
This is very exciting
Of course, I find this change exciting (I’d better, it’s what I do for most of my day, every day)! But if you don’t feel that same exuberance, believe me, you’re not alone. Many of the folks I talk to admit they feel overwhelmed. Admittedly, “because you have to” has a tendency to make embracing a new idea less than exciting. However, no matter how you may feel about social, choosing to ignore it in your organization isn’t an effective strategy. Why? Because you employ social people, your customers are social, as are your partners, affiliates, and just about every one of your future employees. And don’t forget your competitors (they’re social, too – or learning how to be).
Your challenge is to recognize the opportunities your organization has to weave social in, and put some math behind the expected benefits. Even if you decide to do nothing more than create a Social Media policy for your employees and offer policy and usage training, you’ll reap rewards simply by ensuring your team knows the rules of the [social] road and how to navigate it with your brand’s best foot forward.
5 Steps to Defining Your Social Enterprise Maturity (and 1 Video to Pump You Up)
Step 1. Define Reality
If you had to take a guess, where on the social maturity scale would you place your organization? Evaluating your “right now” enables you to effectively plot your course. In the example of the baby, if you’d have taken a moment prior to throwing the kid your keys to consider his ability to turn the key in the ignition, you’d never have sent him off on the journey.
In a 2011 Altimeter Group research report, there were three distinct levels named: novice, intermediate, and advanced. Each level considers 6 key areas to determine social maturity: Program, Leadership and Organizational Model, Processes and Policies, Education, Measurement, and Technology. For you to tackle this evaluation, it’s important that you review all efforts that might be underway, even if they’re not your programs. I also recommend doing some review of what’s happening in your industry and how your competitors may be leveraging social. Luckily, social is a hot topic so information is everywhere. Two terrific places to start getting some industry-specific case studies are Radian6 and Salesforce.com.
Start by understanding how you stack up in each maturity area. Do you have a Social Media Policy? Do your employees understand it? Is your brand ”on twitter (Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, etc.) ” with a plan? How’s the plan working? What types of measures are you using to understand your social results? Are your customers connecting effectively with you on social channels? Is your voice clear? Do you have the systems in place to help
support (efficiently) your social programs? Does your team collaborate using social? Who leads social in your company? How does that person or team communicate with the rest of the company? Is your legal team involved with helping to evaluate and bless social interactions?
Step 2. Hang with Believers
Who should help you get together the details of where your company stands at this moment on the maturity scale? The people who want to do the work. The people who know and are invested in the idea of social. Find allies, in other words. These folks are your extended eyes, ears, creativity, and sounding board. Best case, you span multiple departments and processes. Worst case, you’re a small but tenacious group of social advocates interested in bolstering results through careful due diligence.
When you’ve evaluated the 6 key areas, I’d recommend plotting them on a chart. This is your first visualization of where you have room to grow. And pretty pictures – or not so pretty pictures – can help convey your findings to the folks who may be thinking about this for the first time. From there, you and your fellow believers should take into consideration how your company can realistically mature in the following ways: internal priorities, customer-facing priorities, and technology.
Step 3. Do Some Reconnaissance
Take a look at your competitors’ social assets. What are they doing? Are they having interactions with customers or the community over social channels? Do they have a way for their customers to get answers online?
Maybe they’re supplementing their HR efforts with social headhunting (terrific for those industries where there is a shallow, competitive talent pool). If your competitors are fairly effective in their social initiatives, that’s both good and bad for you. Good because you’re able to experience their social “voice” first-hand and learn from missteps you may uncover. Bad because you – or others in your organization – may feel compelled to “skip
ahead” and mirror the competition. This type of knee-jerk reaction may lead you away from the “rightest” path for your brand.
Use this information in conjunction with your (now defined) maturity to brainstorm strategically. At this point, you know your strengths and areas for maturity, you understand what’s happening in the industry, and you’re aware of at least the customer-facing (and potentially the technology used to support it) social initiatives of your competitors. With this knowledge, it’s time to get as many cross-functional leaders as you can together to review your findings and have a social roadmap pow-wow. We offer a Social Enterprise Strategy Workshop which walks you through these steps if you believe your organization would benefit from expert insight. Enlisting a strategist to support your company at this stage of the game can uncover initial-phase innovation you may not have known to consider. You get the added benefit of having folks in the room who have been there, done that for other organizations, shortening your journey to maturity while bypassing rookie mistakes!
Success Tip: This is a fabulous time to bring internal detractors in! Having their laser focus on poking holes in proposed social initiatives will strengthen your end-result plan. If you wait until a plan is “baked”, and then bring these folks into the fold, you’re too late to benefit from this type of scrutiny. Don’t be afraid of nay-sayers! Many a project has been made a success only to spite the folks who said it couldn’t be done.
Step 4. Crawl, Walk, Run, Train, FIGHT!
Well, fight might be a bit strong. But you get what I mean. You’ve established your current maturity, you understand how your competitors and others in your industry leverage social, and you’ve enlisted the help of the advocates and detractors in your company to brainstorm your social roadmap. It’s time to prioritize your projects. Thinking about the baby / milk example from the top of this post, your path must be reality based. If you have a terrific idea for the collaboration between sales and service, but those teams’ leadership is not willing to participate or manage to a change in behavior, it’s not a top candidate.
Success Tip: When prioritizing projects, strong project sponsorship for any program requiring a change in behavior is a must. Moving ahead without it can be a red flag that not only impacts the success of that project, but potentially also may decrease appetite for future initiatives if it’s the first social program you’re undertaking in the company.
With this strong foundation and clarity, you’re ready to go for it. From the smallest project to the largest program, you’re preparation is key to delivering, well, awesomeness. Your goal here is to win. So I leave you with this: the preparation is all. Even when folks around you aren’t interested in the details, make certain the project team is. It’s in the details, the training, you’ll find success. The folks who don’t want to go deep into the how never need to know the thought you’ve put into your program. Let it be magic to them. What counts is that you win – and that the benefit is measurable to your company and customers.
Step 5.The Finish Line (Doesn’t Exist)
What’s expected of business is constantly evolving. So, too, are your capabilities. The strategic process, and revisiting your social maturity regularly is a sound practice. You’ll always have areas you can strengthen, and as you begin interacting with employees and clients via social, you’ll gain an insight that is less filtered. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and will. Expecting the need for revision, and building your solutions to be flexible, is a smart move.
My next post is will cover some recent Salesforce news about their Social capabilities (and what it means to you). Until then, feel free to contact me with questions or suggestions for future posts (I’d love to hear from you!). If you’d like to know more about how CoreMatrix can help your company become a Social Enterprise, make the most of their current Cloud investment, or move to the next level in the Cloud,Contact Us today!
Jennifer Phillips (@CRMjen) is our Social Enterprise Discipline lead. She is a Salesforce.com Certified Administrator, Service and Sales Cloud Consultant. She’s also a Salesforce.com MVP, the Orlando Salesforce.com User Group leader and an SCRM Certified Professional. In her spare time, she’s an avid cupcake enthusiast.