Eight steps you should take to make the most of social media for your business

1) Define the “why”

As with any activity you undertake at work, you should know why you’re doing it. Without a clear goal in mind, you’ll have a much harder time pinpointing the right approach and you are likely to feel disappointment once your strategy has been rolled out.

You need to analyse which of your business objectives is supported by social. Usual goals of this nature tend to be: 

  • Improved productivity (through less time spent on emails and co-ordination)
  • Improved employee satisfaction (through increased transparency within the organisation)
  • Improved flow of information (through more active discussions)
  • Improved customer support (through easier access to individuals able to help with specific customer problems)

2) Make it a culture thing

Another principal element to social business is company culture. Social technologies bring with them a promise of transparency, dialogue and flatter hierarchies. This means these dynamics should be present in a company’s culture to really unlock social’s full potential.

Social technologies, internal or external, are just different platforms for people to communicate. If employees are currently reluctant to speak up and voice their ideas, a social platform alone doesn’t change that. More often than not, it’s not the employees that need to understand the cultural change, but the top and middle management.

3) Leading by example

To really take off as a social business, everyone needs to be on board. This includes senior management.

When senior management leads by example every day, then you have the best shot at utilising social media to its fullest potential. The senior management team should take an active and authentic role in the community, communicating openly and respectfully with their employees.

4) Create a social governance model

Start with a social media council, where all departments come together and discuss a central social media strategy for the entire company. The social media council should include representatives from PR and marketing, internal communications, IT, HR, customer support, sales, legal and others. These representatives need to be at management level, and able to make decisions about budget and resources.

5) Decide on the right tools

Whether it is Jive or Yammer, Microsoft SharePoint or IBM Connections – there’s a wide variety of social enterprise solutions out there, as long as you adopt them for the right reasons.

Bear in mind you’ll have to pilot them to identify the solution which best fits your needs, IT infrastructure and present skill set of your employees.

6) Give internal communications the social overhaul

Internal communications have the all-important task of becoming the in-house communications managers and facilitators. They need to enable the entire organisation – from CEO to trainee – guaranteeing that important information is seen by everyone using the right vehicles – no more complex articles, but instead, CEO blogposts and live Q&A sessions.

7) Enable the people (especially the CEO)

While most of your employees will use a social network in their private lives, companies need to educate individuals on how to use social technologies professionally. That means training sessions for everyone, first and foremost, senior management.

Don’t stop at “What is Facebook?” and “How do I use Twitter?”, begin with the cultural basics and etiquette that shape your social communications – teach employees how best to use social networks to reach internal goals, including reporting their successes.

8) Show your employees you mean (social) business

The transition to social business does not happen overnight. Chances are you’re still using email and important company information is packaged into newsletters. If people are given the choice between sticking with their old habits and using something new, they’ll stay within their comfort zone.

Rolling out a social approach should not be an isolated project, but have a ripple effect into the entire organisation. It starts from the top: CEO communications should only occur via social platforms, with all employee discussions either in groups or via tagged threads and live Q&A sessions. If you show them you mean business, your employees will follow.

Annabelle Atchison, director, 33 Digital

Creative Moment Awards 2020