It's raining social media. I LOVE it! And I absolutely love that small to large corporations have really started to see the value in social media. I've seen and been approached by many companies who are just on the verge of judiciously implementing the use of social technologies internally as well as externally as an extension of their marketing efforts, to raise brand awareness, and to engage employees.
Setting enthusiasm aside, one of the things I've observed lately is that sometimes these social media efforts are disconnected from one another, and oftentimes one functional organization has little to no awareness of what other organizations are doing. I liken this observation to my many years as a Web developer in Corporate Communications, where we would come across "rogue" or grassroots Web site efforts that we would have to wrap into the corporate brand. I absolutely applaud anyone's earnest efforts to take initiative and make change; however, it's essential that these efforts be coordinated not only from a branding standpoint, but also legal and overall communications ones as well.
Staying Under the Umbrella Creates Social Synergy
Ever walked through the rain and had to share an umbrella with someone else? When applied to social media, that proximity creates what is one of my favorite phrases: social synergy. Social synergy â€" don't know if it's already been "claimed" but I will gladly do so here â€" is the harmonization of social media efforts so that technologies, strategies and methodologies can be cross-leveraged, cross-utilized and cross-communicated. Isn't the whole essence of social media to not work in silos, but to leverage connections, anyway?
Grassroots or individual efforts are normally so well-intentioned and full of enthusiasm, that it's hard to be the one to ask them to fold themselves under a larger "corporate" umbrella and without making them feel their efforts aren't appreciated. But, it's normally these grassroots efforts who actually need the most guidance or recommendations on how to launch a social media program. In my discussions, I always make it clear that I'm a fellow social media enthusiast and that I'm not there to quash any efforts that they might have. Instead, I want to make sure that we all are working from the same common brand, voice and guidelines. So far, this seems to be received pretty well. If you don't synergize, there is a lot of missed opportunities between marketing, sales, and human resources.
What Can You Fit Under the Umbrella?
Guidelines -- With all the talk about social policies and guidelines, it's really important that you, for the most part, be operating from the same ones. Especially if your guidelines (as they should) tie into your standards of business conduct, disclosure statements, and legal policies.
Voice -- Every company has a marketing strategy on how it likes to speak to its consumers as well as candidates. If you are in the marketing or human resources organizations, be vocal (no pun intended) about what your strategy is, so that everyone can be consistent within their social media efforts. Also, identify key terms so that you can not only use consistent verbiage, but also use them as Twitter #hashtags.
Brand -- It's essential that all of your social media profiles leverage the look and feel of your brand. This will distinguish your profiles from ones that aren't "officially" managed by your company. Work with your brand marketing group to create standards and templates for your social networks. Besides, it just looks prettier.
Holla! -- You can't send cross-directional traffic to each other if you don't know the other exists. If you're lucky enough to have a social media ambassador / employee enthusiast program, identify who those individuals are and make sure they know who you are. That way, you can ensure you're responding appropriately and directing your audience to the right people.
For someone who lives and breathes social media, both personally and professionally, it does nothing less than make me ecstatic to see all of these efforts coming together. I wish everyone luck in creating their own social synergy at work... and by all means, let me know if you would like any thoughts on the process. And as always, if you have your own thoughts, feel free to include them here.