I don't care if you're the marketing assistant, the PR coordinator, the customer service manager, the HR director, or the mailroom clerk. What it takes is the intent to be part of the progress, the bravery to start an open conversation, the maturity and patience to not make it personal, and the investment in the outcomes to take it a step further.
These are not just conversations for the communications department. Be courageous. Pick up the phone, or fire up the email, and ask for 15 minutes of time from the people that can help move social media forward in your organization (or at least reduce some of the friction around it). That means the marketing folks, the customer service folks, finance, HR, PR, product management, QA, sales. Yes, that includes the people you've never talked to before, and the ones that aren't in your "box".
Ask them one or two questions that can help you form a business case for social media. Your goal is to align social's capabilities with the problems your organization needs or wants to solve for their own business. Note that the questions below aren't all specific to social media; they're attempting to uncover some of the underlying culture, brand, and operational issues that social media could help address. Remember, we're talking culture change as well as operational change. You need to be the one to translate.
- What do we do and why, in your words (not a vision statement)? On what could we, as a business, spend more time, energy, and focus?
- Are you passionate about your role? If so, why? If not, what would help you be?
- What goals do you have for your role this year? How do you hope to impact the success of your department? The company?
- How would you describe the culture of our organization?
- How do you use the internet in your work life? In your personal life? Where are the overlaps?
- How do you believe your team uses the internet for their work? Have you heard ideas or feedback for ways they'd like to use it more or differently to do their jobs better?
- Where do you turn when seeking resources or information about your role? Our company? Our industry?
- What does our ideal customer look like, aside from demo/psychographics? What do they seek from us?
- If you could ask our customers whatever you wanted, what questions are on your mind? What would you like to know about them and their relationship to our company?
- How is your function in the business most impacted by customer satisfaction and loyalty?
- Do you think our brand presentation aligns with our reputation in the industry? Why or why not?
- How strong do you think our internal communication is? What would make it better? What information do you wish you had more of?
- What kind of marketing or promotion do you think we do really well? What's gotten you excited about the way we put our company out there, and why?
- How well do you think we communicate with customers overall and solicit their feedback? What strengths and gaps do you see? Does it impact you, and if so, is it for better or worse?
- What sorts of measures do you use in your current role to evaluate the success or impact of your work/department?
- How flexible and adaptable do you feel our internal processes are? Are there some that are outdated? Cutting edge?
- What's your perception about social media based on what you know/have heard/have read?
- Do you believe social media has a place in our work and business? Why or why not?
- What are the worst case scenarios you can imagine from social media? What scares you, and what are the risks you're most concerned with?
- What excites you about social media, if anything?
These questions reflect some of the deeper discussions I get into with companies around laying the groundwork for social media, but they are by no means exhaustive.
What questions have you found useful in your social media discussions with clients, colleagues, management? How are you crossing hallways and walls and talking to people outside your department about this, or encouraging others to do so? What are your "yeah, but..." comments for me about why this is so hard to do?
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