Jason Falls penned a great post last week about Six Steps to Becoming The Social Media Champion At Work. (For the record, #6 is a gold in itself).
That champion role - whether you're an employee or an agency - comes with several hats you have to wear. Each are equally important, and I don't think they can survive independently. If you think this role is one for the faint of heart, or suited to just some dude with a blog in his basement, think again.
Barriers to social media in companies abound, and many of them are legitimate (if frustrating). Embarking on the great ship Social Media requires the ability to understand those hang-ups, from a business as well as a human perspective. For companies who have been doing things the "old" way for ages, these sea changes represent elements of fear, uncertainty, skepticism. It's up to you to listen carefully to those concerns and get to the root of them.
Research, research, research. Nothing will allay the fears of the doubtful like business-oriented, grounded proof positive. As a social media advocate, it's going to be your job to amass as much evidence of real examples as you can. And don't kid yourself that it's all about demonstrating successes. It's just as important to document examples of what DIDN'T work. Not only does it lend credibility that you see things from a balanced perspective, but it just may prevent you from making the same mistakes.
Winging it isn't the way to do social media, neither is a shotgun approach. You must create a plan that includes elements of:
* Listening: Understanding what's being said about you, or not
* Readiness Assessment: What obstacles are you facing, and how will you deal?
* Goal Setting: A map is useless without a destination
* Resource Planning: It may not cost much in dollars, but human resources are critical
* Internal Education and Training: You'll need your colleagues to understand why this is important
* Immersion: Getting out into the community to get your feet wet
* Participation: Actively using social media for your business and contributing to the community
* Measurement: How you're defining success
* Learning: What works, what doesn't, and what you're going to do about it.
(If you've been living under a rock and haven't seen it, the incomparable Chris Brogan has a post about getting started that trumps anything smart I'd have to say here.)
Once again: our role is to educate and empower. There are lot of misconceptions about social media, and a great deal of explanation and guidance necessary to steward it properly for business application. You're going to constantly absorbing knowledge about this space, so bring that value back to your company or client by sharing it.
Even the smartest cows (?) wander off the path. Guiding social media within a business framework means that you'll spend plenty of time corralling wayward cows and keeping the herd on the trail. And on occasion, when it's needed, you'll need to be the one to shove that herd across raging rivers, over mountains, or down a brand new path in order to find your way home.
You can skip the salty outfit (unless that's your thing), but truth is, you're going to hit stumbling blocks. Failure is part of playing the game, and someone needs to keep finding the positives and the opportunities. As cheerleader, you'll want to encourage your colleagues and clients in the face of the inevitable challenges to reassure them that social media is as much about the journey as the destination.
So what say you? What other roles do you find yourself taking on in order to encourage social media adoption with your company or clients? Let's share. I'm gonna go fetch my cowgirl hat.
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