Top down. That's how you make the best use out of a convertible, and that's how you make the best use out of your social media strategy. You might have the greatest social media plan ever conceived on the face of the earth, but if it isn't a top-down approach, the chances for success are going to be severely hampered. At best, it'll limp along and never excel.
When a social media plan doesn't start at the top of the company, it doesn't last.
Why The Top Isn't Down
Sometimes business leaders aren't down with social media. There are different reasons why this might be.
- Too much hype. That's an anti-incentive for leaders who have seen a lot of things come and go.
- Not understanding. Leaders might see social media as just another iteration of MySpace or some place where those crazy kids are.
- Missing the connection. Leaders don't see the connection between customer service, sales, trust, and social media, seeing instead as "sales blasts" that is just another part of traditional advertising.
- Fear of losing control. Leaders are used to controlling their message, and worry about what might happen if someone says something negative.
There are probably other reasons for hesitancy. Just think how long it took for some businesses to be convinced they needed a website. Change is slow, painful, and scary. Businesses want proof that it has value. Social media seems vague.
An Ideal Situation
So let's say the leader of a business gets it, somewhat. She understands the importance of social media and signs off on a plan, delegating it completely to someone and forgetting about it. It's great that she gave permissions to implement a social media plan. But it'd be even better if she got a little more involved with it herself. Why?
- Lead by example. An involved leader changes the business's entire environment. Instead of "do as I say" it becomes "do as I do."
- Instill confidence. Employees are more confident in their social media efforts when they know it is understood and appreciated at the top. They feel more like a part of a team rather than just another advertising department.
- Always learning. A leader who is actively creating, writing, researching, and connecting is one who will be able to adapt quickly. Trends, problems, changes, potential, possibilities - all become things on the radar of a someone actively creating content and working with social media.
Becoming a social media company means a shift in strategy and focus. It isn't something that is added as just another program. To do it well requires the entire business - from the top down - to adopt an entirely new view of how they connect and interact with customers.