There are benefits to creating a social media strategy that is customised to your company, rather than just picking one up off the shelf (shockingly, I know of some digital consultancies that pretend to offer each client an individualised one, but in fact use the same template for all).
Customising a strategy for your own organisation’s needs (and reviewing it at least annually) can offer the following benefits.
By implementing social technologies ‘behind the firewall’ you can speed up time to market and knowledge acquisition blockages. For example, replacing the endless circles of email and document management and change with a simple wiki can deliver tangible results.
Law firm Allen & Overy decided to embrace social media as it’s well suited to environments such as law – constantly changing and requiring a large amount of information sharing. It started off with 3 pilot sites – each having a combined blog and wiki. The results were astonishing and Allen & Overy now has nearly 30 sites for practice areas, new legislations etc. These sites make it easier for lawyers to answer questions and collaborate on cases. Social Media is also used for training events and for people to discuss the issues raised in such events (Source: http://bit.ly/bfwTxs, and see also http://bit.ly/9vVaGz).
Lowered operational costs
If the endless ‘paper chase’ of revised documents being sent to members of a project team can be instantly cut by implementing a wiki, a no-cost tool that takes an hour or two at most to install and set up, then the cost of each project is surely reduced.
But there are other costs that are lowered, too. Erik Qualman on his socialnomics.com blog reports that wine aficionado and maverick wine seller Gary Vaynerchuk found first hand that US$15,000 in Direct Mail brings in 200 new customers, US$7,500 spent on billboards brings in 300 new customers, but US$0 spent on Twitter has brought in 1,800 new customers. Vaynerchuk has grown his family business from US$4 million to US$50 million using social media.
Additionally, Lenovo was able to achieve cost savings by a 20% reduction in call center activity as customers increasingly go to its community website for answers.
Increased worker flexibility
Knowledge workers are able to work remotely, saving the organisation seating costs. For example, Twitter customer service teams can work from home yet still offer full support, utilising private Twitter conversations, wikis/intranets and email to solve customers’ problems.
Journalists and employee communication professionals can file their photo- or video-included stories from the field, rather than having to return to the office.
Podcasts and vidcasts can keep remote area sales staff on the road for longer, with less stops back at HQ in order to update their knowledge and view their sales statistics.
Blogs and wikis are tremendous tools to capture the knowledge of baby boomers who are retiring from the organisation; especially so if they are encouraged to remain an ‘Alumni’ member of the organisation via one social media channel or another.
But equally, they can serve as knowledge tools for existing or ‘new hire’ employees. New hires can quickly update themselves on the company’s culture by listening to podcasts about the company’s ‘story’ on the way to and from work, or watch videos about cultural or process issues on their ipad or other video-enabled device.
Enhanced relationship marketing
By incorporating social media tools into your overall communication strategy, you have the opportunity to build up Trust within the organisation and with clients, customers and other outside stakeholder groups. People will feel they are communicating with other people, not with a faceless corporation, and be less likely to be virulent in their approach, and more likely to be open to engaging in honest conversation.
All of the above benefits are dependent upon the organisation introducing social media into its communication strategy. The tools themselves are able to bring little benefit if they are not applied in a strategic manner.
But because each organisation is individual unto itself, with its own exigencies and requirements, its own politics and culture, it is impossible in this report to provide any more guidance that this: ask yourself and your organisation the key strategic questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
Once you have those answers you are on the way to creating a sensible strategy for your own organisation; just don’t forget to review it annually (sooner if appropriate) and make sure to take measurements at the start of your planning process so that you have benchmarks against which to measure your progress.