When considering the tools of social media and how they relate to your business communications needs, it’s important to think about two parts of the equation: possibility + function. These tools open up new ways to communicate, which is great. It also means that you have to consider what the functional goal of that communication means to your need.
On the one hand, dream big and see what you can do with things like videoblogging and locaion-based applications. On the other, be sure that these efforts are answering the requirements of your communication instead of just being there because they’re cool. Does that make sense? Let’s get more concrete for a moment.
Video as a Communications Tool
Possibility: simple distribution, inexpensive (compared to TV), personable, allows a visual element to storytelling, appeals to visual learners, promotes personal interaction. Can be participatory (sharing Flip cams with lots of people).
Function: improve customer service, reduce ad spend, generate assets that can be shared (like how YouTube and other video products allow for an embed, which means anyone can take the media with them to other sites), improves brand recognition, better product demonstration, etc, etc.
Possibilities + Function
In using this formula, you get a better chance to determine whether a tool makes sense for your needs, and/or you receive a better way to integrate your efforts with your company goals. It makes selling the process to the higher levels easier and it makes lacing the effort into standard procedures easier. Don’t forget: once the “gee whiz” wears off, what comes next is making this all part of the regular fabric of your organization.
Let’s look at another example.
Possibilities: perpetual collaboration, community-based peer problem solving, simple information distribution, ongoing marketing opportunities, improved community business networking.
Function: improved marketing data, cost-effective information sharing, reduced call handling time (for customer service functions), opinion data gathering, product marketing insights.
Make The Formula Part of Your Framework
If you’re lucky, your organization has gone beyond the “gee whiz, social media is cool” phase, and now they’re looking for ways to implement it intelligently and with a strategic purpose. You probably have an integration method in mind, and it might look something like this:
Framework for Onboarding Social Media Elements:
- Define business goals
- Determine appropriate potential tools
- Evaluate tools <-- add possibilities+function here
- Build isolated (shadow) trial for tools
- Determine integration points
- Build measurements into existing structure (and/or reporting)
- Determine marketing (if any) around deployment of tool
- Deploy the tool
- Adjust as needed
- Integrate into standard operations
- Train as needed
- Onboarding complete
That’s just a sample onboarding process, but if you’re not building these types of practices into how you integrate social media, you might consider giving that a go. It will help the process all the way around, and builds a level of comfort into people’s acceptance of the tools within your organization.
How does the “possibilities + function” equation impact the way you’ve been thinking of social media tool integration at your organization? Have you had earlier attempts at using social media that didn’t go so well? Had you considered those two points deeply?
What else do you want to know? How are you going about integrating social tools to your organization?
Photo credit lepiaf.geo