Original insights in international business and marketing

How to Unleash the Hidden Social Media Potential Within Your Organization


Many of us are sitting on top of a pile of gold and don’t even realize it.  In fact, it’s more like we are sitting on top of massive oil reserves just waiting to be tapped.

I am referring of course to the unused or underused combined knowledge, passion and expertise that lie within our own organizations.  After all, these are the essential building blocks for a robust digital marketing strategy.

With the advent of digital technology, social media and inbound marketing principles we can now see an unprecedented opportunity to democratize marketing to include people from all areas within the company.  Gone are the days when customer interactions were the exclusive domain of the Marketing department.  Technology has made it possible for just about anyone in the organization to play an active role and even lead/facilitate interactions with consumers and customers.

But before this can happen, before you unleash the combined passion and expertise of your own employees, a couple of steps need to take place.

1.  Advertise!  To start identifying product/topic champions, you need to start an internal awareness campaign.  Many people – probably most – are familiar with social media but are also unaware of how and where they can participate in it professionally on behalf of their organization.  Your role will be to run an internal awareness campaign which will draw in the hidden social champions within your organization.

2.  Recruit!  Obviously, not everybody is qualified and capable of immediately assuming direct conversations with customers or of creating quality content.  It takes, in my opinion, at least 3 key ingredients to make for first-rate customer interactions.

  • Passion & Curiosity.  These are at the very core of what makes for good communications and communities.  The extended inbound marketing team of contributors must at least all share a deep curiosity for the subject. Curiosity fuels the social aspects of this new medium (commenting on blogs, following users, twittering, etc…), asking the right questions and seeking to learn from the communities.
  • Knowledge & Expertise.  Naturally, success of an ongoing interaction campaign depends heavily on the quality of the content and dialogue.  Your subject matter champions need to be recognized as trusted experts in their field.  This can only happen if your team is made of subject matter experts who deliver insights and value to their readers.
  • Communication.  Although we are seeing the emergence of new mediums like photos and videos, digital marketing still relies very heavily on the written form, be it in blogs, newsletters, twitter, etc…  Your extended team therefore needs to have strong communication skills, particularly the written word.  Furthermore, they should also be able to engage with their audience in a meaningful, compelling and sustainable way.  Introverts who are uncomfortable writing or expressing themselves need not apply.

3.  Train!  Content and community champions cannot simply be thrown to the wolves and left to their own devices.  Many companies – rightly so – are very skittish and nervous about social media in the first place.  Many fear the repercussions of having “loose cannons” making unsupported claims, engaging in inappropriate conversations or attracting controversy.  Hence, your champions need to undergo rigorous training and orientation programs.  The content of this orientation should include inputs from various stakeholders such as: Legal, Regulatory, HR, IT, Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, etc….  I don’t believe this can be undertaken lightly.  This is probably a 1+ day workshop during which future champions must learn the power – and dangers – of digital medias.  The key here is to ensure a consistent and uniform understanding of online practices and behaviors.  It will help set the tone, style and topics to be adopted.  Finally, it will help reassure corporate leaders that your digital campaign and champions will stay on message and will have been trained (certified?) to avoid/handle social landlines and “hot potatoes.”

4.  Coach!  Once your digital presence has been kicked off with your social champions, you will need to provide regular coaching and feedback.  At least initially, all new content should be reviewed and edited before release.  Comments and customer discussions will need to be closely monitored to ensure the tone, style and content are consistently on strategy.

5.  Expand!  Schedule periodic meetings to bring social champions together to review progress, discuss new digital formats/forums, review customer findings, brainstorm ideas, analyze performance metrics, etc…  Develop new social strategies, roll-out new tools, refine your communication and content to adapt to the changing landscape.  Listen to your ambassadors and empower them to experiment in new directions.

How are you tapping into your organization’s social media and content marketing potential?

photo credit: jonathanw100 via photopin cc

One comment on “How to Unleash the Hidden Social Media Potential Within Your Organization

  1. Sudario Alonso
    February 18, 2013

    Getting internal awareness is the key. Great post!

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February 2013

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Andrew Hyncik

Andrew Hyncik

Parifornia is the creation of Andrew Hyncik, an experienced International Marketing executive who's lived and worked for over 20 years in both Europe and North America.

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