What adjectives would you use to describe Alexandr Orlov (the meerkat)? Probably something like: charming, endearing, chatty, witty, strong-minded, cultivated, accomplished. Exactly the person you would want to front your social media activities. Someone who blends the right personality, aptitude, status and knowledge to get out there and write your company blog, discuss on twitter, debate on LinkedIn, or charm the cameras on YouTube. Just like Alexandr, these mythical creatures are hard to come by. So what choices do you have?
If you are a household brand with deep pockets you just make it all up. See Alexandr’s stratospheric status and appeal. Alas, it is more likely that you are a medium to large B2B corporation, with a brand your mother knows only because you work there and an overworked and under-funded marketing team. Your blog is collecting dust after months or years of neglect, a few random posts on Twitter hardly constitutes a social media strategy and suddenly there is an ex-employee Facebook group with your (badly cropped) logo slapped on it.
You have to do something about it, because the old sales mantra “if you are not out there selling, your competitor will be” is even more relevant in the world of online networking.
But what do you do? You look around your organisation and see what’s available of course. You are searching for 5 things:
Most likely this person is already a social animal, always out there in the real world networking, lunching, being interviewed and quoted, participating in panels or trawling trade shows.
Generalists or specialists, tactical or strategic, services or product development, they sit on knowledge the industry is hungry for. Unfortunately, more often than not such expertise is locked away from both public eye and often other departments in the same organisation.
It helps if they are already a recognised and respected professional. It took Subo one weekend to become a global icon, but for the rest of us industry recognition requires a lot more effort. Recognition gives you momentum and increases your chances for success.
Contrary to popular belief that’s the easiest one. They either have it, or they don’t. If they have to try to fit things in, don’t even bother. For the right person time is not an issue, but a given. We have brilliant clients who could do wonders on Twitter, or blogs, but you just know they would never make the time.
Understanding the potential
That’s another easy one. That’s the one thing that if absent, we can teach. Devising a social media strategy, discussing the tactics and demonstrating the channels are only parts of a process. The right person will get it.
So you’ve had a look around the organisation. What did you find?
- Found it all? Halleluiah! Hopefully they are directors planning to retire on the job and not duplicitous employees looking after their own brand and careers first.
- Did you find lots of knowledge and expertise but not the personalities? It might work if you pair these people with a freelance journalist or copywriter with social media experience and the ability to take raw knowledge, turn it into irresistible stories and feed it through the right channels. It will not be as effective as the experts themselves being out there discussing, sharing and challenging, but it’s a whole lot better than doing nothing.
- Did you find exuberant personalities already on Twitter, LinkedIn, chat rooms and blogs, but lacking business focus, relevance and substance? You need to harness this energy and make it work for your organisation. Internal knowledge sharing, pairing thinkers and talkers, recruiting the talkers to work for your communications department (formally or undercover) are all ways to get your intellectual capital out there and to drive it hard to generate value.
- Found not much? Hard to believe your organisation is still in business without expertise. I would start looking around for a new job.
Should you outsource the whole thing?
Forget it. First, it’s unlikely you have the budget and second, unless it’s a made up campaign, it has to come from the heart. An agency (like Skyron) can help with the strategy and a plan, an inexpensive journalist might help with the writing, but the majority of the labour has to be committed internally, by the right people. Simples eh!?