MAD Perspectives Blog

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 The 4 Ps of Social Media Governance

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Social Media Governance.  What was your immediate reaction?  Yay, Awesome!?  Or, argh! - something else I have to be doing?  Governance is the "method or system of government or management". The good news is that your business has decided to use social media for some purpose.  Presumably you have some measurable goals in place and your use of social media is aligned with your overall communication plan.  How are you going to know if your use of social media is successful?  This is where governance comes into play.        

Governance is the business process to support your vision with relevant targets, skills, metrics and guidelines. Governance provides a framework to prove social media value.  Governance can be summarized as the 4 Ps.  Planning, Policy, Preparation & Protocol.

1.  Planning -   This is the hard part.  This is figuring out HOW you want to leverage social media.  Ideally, your company will have identified areas where social media can help your business achieve existing goals.  The impacted business groups will be aligned in how they will use social media to communicate and interact with customers, vendors or employees.  Planning is agreeing who takes the lead in your social media initiative and understanding the roles of impacted business groups.  Planning is setting a timeline for how you will move forward with your social media strategy.

2.  Policy - This is the critical part.  This is setting the company guidelines for what can or cannot be said via social media.  Policy is working across different business units, including legal and HR, to understand concerns about social communication and defining the parameters within which employees can be 'social'.  This is taking into account your corporate culture and expanding upon existing employee code of conduct guidelines - or not.

3.  Preparation - This is the nitty gritty part.  This is determining what kinds of social media platforms your company will use and determining if your company has sufficient resources to manage a social media initiative.  This is establishing your presence on the relevant social platforms (i.e., blogs, wikis, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare, etc.).  This is educating your employees on your policy and how your company will leverage social media and the various platforms.  Perhaps this is enabled via interactive training, an online handbook or a webinar.  This is making sure your employees know where to go if they have questions. Preparation is confirming how you will measure success and selecting the tools needed to capture necessary metrics.

4. Protocol - This is ongoing, every day part.  Protocol incorporates bits of planning, policy and preparation to ensure that guidelines are followed and that employees are engaging for the purpose intended.  Protocol will look at the ongoing measures of success and used the data collected to determine if plans need to be adjusted.  Protocol is how your social media team will communicate and address progress, hurdles or problems.

If you can keep these 4 Ps in mind as you initiate and implement your social media initiative(s) you will have the foundation for a successful venture.  Many forays into social media have mixed results, but often this is do to lack of planning and management of the effort.  While an ad hoc approach is great for gaining familiarity with the communication style and platforms, it does not enable you to set goals and prove that you have achieved them.

Your company uses some form of governance for its exsiting marketing, sales, product development or R&D projects, shouldn't social media be held to the same standards?  

What's your perspective?