MAD Perspectives Blog

Building Business Relationships a la Digital Media

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Business is about building relationships.  In the past these relationships were developed in buildings with offices, desks and phones.  They were fostered over lunches, dinners, holiday parties and golf outings.  We only have to watch "MAD MEN" to be reminded of that while these relationships seemed solid on the surface, they often crumbled under the pressures of other business needs.

Bottom line, business relationships are about one party fulfilling the needs and desires of the other.  The challenge is understanding those needs and desires.  In today's social business world, relationships can be initiated via various social networks.  However, the foundation for a relationship still evolves from a face to face meeting.  However, it is often maintained through the use of many digital media solutions.  These solutions include desktop video conferencing, webinars, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, newsletters and more.

I met with a client last week.  They are a small, privately held software company.  Their customers are global, yet their sales force is centralized.  You may be scratching your head wondering why.  I know I did.  However, they have found their salesforce to be more effective if they can leverage the knowledge gained from each other through discussions about their potential customers.  They fulfill their customer's desire for face to face meetings via desktop video conferencing.  They provide software demos using online tools such as GotoMeeting.  They provide product updates via email newsletters and weekly blogs.  They have leveraged the many solutions available to them to maintain their customer relationships in an efficient, cost effective manner that fulfills their customers needs.

How do we understand those needs?  We listen!  Thanks to constantly evolving social media platforms, companies have a unique opportunity to hear more than ever before.  In fact, this has become a daunting proposition for many companies.  Customers are very candid in the social stratosphere - they share the good, the great, the bad and the ugly.  However, it is critical for companies to gain social intelligence about their customers needs, goals and concerns.  They will gain competitive insight and candid feedback that can influence business process, product roadmap, market awareness and help build stronger business relationships.

By incorporating the many digital media tools available today, businesses can communicate in the manner best suited to their many audiences (c-level, marketing, purchasing, engineering, etc.).  In combining traditional business interactions with digital communication channels and social interactivity, companies will build a new kind of relationship with their customers.

What's your perspective?



Video and Enterprise Communication

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Video is a pervasive part of our lives.  As consumers we watch TV to enjoy comedy, sports, entertainment and news.  We also go online for this same content and more.  We go to YouTube to check out user generated videos as well as professional videos.  We use Skype to for ad hoc video communication.  Enterprise business recognizes the value and power of video, but is still predominantly using video for internal purposes.  Consider the power of video and then consider video as a critical part of the enterprise communication strategy.

Large enterprises have been leveraging video for employee education, customer training, customer support, product promotion and market awareness for many years.  These large (think Fortune 500) companies are also targets for Unified Communication solutions offered by companies such as Cisco, MicrosoftHP and others.  However, there are also many vendors offering solutions for video streaming, video conferencing, webcasting, web conferencing and more.  According to Forrester Research’s Enterprise and SMB Networks and Telecommunications Survey from Q1 2010, within the next 12 months:

-          31% of companies  are interested in Desktop IP Video Conferencing solutions

-           29% of companies are interested in enterprise IP/Digital Video for internal purposes

-          32% of companies are interested in immersive video conferencing (i.e., telepresence)

However, few companies have actual plans to implement and deploy these solutions.    Adoption of these solutions will take into account business requirements, geography, feature/functionality, price, impact on corporate network and ongoing management.  Why should companies be developing actionable plans for video solutions?  Here are some pros and cons:

 

PROS

CONS

-          Video is expressive and compelling

-          Video solutions are complex

-          Video enables participants to see body language, facial expressions and reactions

-          Video infrastructure is expensive    

-          Video is more memorable than the written word

-          Video is time consuming to create, edit, process, upload and consume

-          Video enhances clarity, authenticity and credibility of messaging

-          Video needs to be distributed with multiple media player options (i.e., Microsoft, Real, Apple)

-          Video can be re-purposed across a variety of distribution channels

 

-          Video solution vendors offer increasingly cost-effective business models

 

-          Video can reduce travel expenses

 

 

As companies develop their plans for incorporating video into their enterprise communication strategy, they should consider:
1. How the company will use video

  •      - For internal communication and collaboration
  •      - For external communications and education
  •      - One to one, one to many or many to many communication
  • 2. Developing Content
  •      - Length of meeting or presentation
  •      - Goals for the meeting
  •      - Personality mapping (consider your audience and the type of presenter who can create best impact)
  •      - Metadata description of content
  •      - Search Engine Optimization (based on title and metadata)
  • 3. Post event activity
  •      - Availability of on-demand video “replay”
  •      - Posting/Distribution of content on website or 3rd party sites (i.e., YouTube, BrightTalk)

 

Video has become more than a solution for pushing information to a target audience.  It has become part of the real-time communication process.  With desktop video conferencing and immersive video conferencing (think telepresence) ranging from high-end to low-end, companies have greater opportunities to leverage video on a daily basis.  Whether you are a large enterprise or a small/medium sized business, video can help you communicate with your audience.  Aligning the use of video with your overall business strategy is critical.  Aligning internal business groups (i.e., Execs, marketing, sales, IT, etc.) is also important.  How is your company going to incorporate video into your communication strategy?

What’s your perspective?



Broadcast Industry Lessons for Telling Your Corporate Stories

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 27, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about the broadcast industry since my return from IBC2010 in Amsterdam, two weeks ago.  As I talk to companies about their use of online vide, social media and other digital media solutions there are many topics which heavily leverage the experience of the largest content owners, broadcasters.  Broadcasters are in the business of creating, managing and distributing content.  They are telling stories to inform, educate and entertain.

Corporations also have stories to tell and they have an increasing number of channels via which they can tell their stories.  The days of static brochures and websites are gone, or at the very least, rapidly disappearing.  Broadcasters have been forced to adopt ‘new media’ solutions to remain relevant.  These new media solutions include:

-          video-on-demand via their branded websites plus social sites such as YouTube

-          blogging to share another perspective on a story or to invite ongoing discussion

-          tweeting on Twitter and posting on Facebook to increase demographic, geographic or socio-graphic reach

-          distributing content via Internet, 3G/4G networks and Wi-Fi to devices of all types

These communication channels allow broadcasters to reach their customers in a new way, in a more interactive, personal and some would say, authentic, manner.  Do corporations in the manufacturing, financial services, healthcare or high tech industries, for example, need to be sharing content in the same way?  The answer is, YES!   Corporations have many stories to tell.  In addition to information about their products, they have insights on their industry and customers.  They can discuss company vision, history, philanthropy or culture, business challenges. They can train their customers, business partners or employees.  Companies have many stories to tell and many channels through which they can reach their customers.

What can they learn from broadcasters?  They can leverage an understanding of:

-          Who is your target customer or audience?  What kind of content do they want to see or read? Product information, customer support issues, competitive analysis, industry benchmarks are all possible topics.   Understanding the stories that need to be told can help you develop a content strategy addressing the needs of your customers.

 

-          What format does your content need to be in?  Various types of content such as audio, video, pictures or text will tell the story in different ways.  Often video is the most memorable, but it can also be the most expensive.   Text provides a way to analyze a situation from multiple perspectives and easily distributed and saved.  It is important to consider the content that format that will make the best impact for the target customer.

 

-          How and where will you distribute your content?    Where are you customers when you tell your story?  Will you need to re-purpose content for different uses?  For example, should an executive video be prepared for distribution to both and mobile?  Is it effective if consumed on a mobile phone?  Or, how about a product training video?  Is it useful for it to be posted on YouTube as well as your corporate website?

 

-          How will you manage your content?  How and where will you store it and find it when you need to access it?  There are metadata (the information about the content) and taxonomy (the hierarchical classification of content) issues to address early on.  Will you need access to the content on a regular basis or is it possible to store it remotely?

 

These are just a few questions that broadcasters address every day.  They seek to maximize impact while streamlining and managing costs related to the production and management of their content.  Content IS their business.  As your company considers its use of digital media solutions to communicate, consider the relevance of each channel for reaching your desired audience.   You also want to maximize your impact and differentiate your market offer.  Think like a broadcaster when telling your story and incorporating different types of media.  You’ll soon have a multi-channel strategy that expands your reach and improves interaction with your customers.  How do you tell your corporate story?

What’s your perspective?




Does B2B need a new app?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Many years ago a technology industry CEO distributed a poster throughout its various corporate, sales and manufacturing offices stating something like “Technology is always changing, if you cannot keep up with the pace of change then you are in the wrong industry.”  This was before Unix, before the internet and long before social media was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye.  The technology industry IS constantly changing and at pace unimagined more than 20 years ago.

So, how do we keep up?  Social media has changed the face of communication forever and who knows what’s next.  While it is possible to imagine that IT hardware will continue to see improvements related to performance, price, environmental impact and size, it is more difficult to forsee how applications will evolve.  An articled on Wired.com recently debated the death of the web while the internet lives on.  Regardless of your point of view, the commentary regarding the implication of an app based future is intriguing

Thanks to Apple and its ubiquitous devices, there seems to be an app for everything from reading our favorite publications to comparison shopping to bouncing penguins off the wall.  Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Groupon have led or leveraged the growing social mentality to share, communicate, and interact based on interests and now location.  Whereas 20 years ago we spoke of Big Brother’ and our fear of anyone having any visibility of comings and goings, now we have left “1984” behind and voluntarily share our likes, dislikes, and destinations.

Do we need to adopt all forms of social media and start developing apps for fear of being considered a ‘neo-luddite’? The term “social media” is becoming all encompassing.  Any application that creates some sort of community experience is considered social.  A community could be moms against peanut butter or customers interested in new storage technologies or individual investors trying to navigate the financial markets.  The challenge is in how any of these tools can provide solutions that are aligned with strategic business goals.

B2B Companies are using or experimenting with social networks to:

  • - understand customer opinion -> to increase customer satisfaction, customer retention, modify product features/functionality, maintain customer loyalty
  • - invite customers to events or webinars -> to  increase customer knowledge, increase customer touch points, qualify customer interest, increase quantity of leads
  • - provide product updates ->to  increase customer knowledge, invite customer input, increase customer loyalty
  • - share industry insight -> to show thought leadership, educate customers,  improve competitive differentiation
  • - offer special discounts or deals -> to drive short term revenue, create awareness,  reward community members
  • - create communities -> to understand trends, drive discussions on select topics, recruit new employees, crowdsource to solutions to simple and/or complex challenges

As long as these activities support higher level goals for sales, innovation, operational efficiency or other needs, the investment in social media is beneficial.

With the increased focus on apps, should companies be developing apps as well as using social networks?  Perhaps apps can help companies address these same goals.  If an app can be distributed on multiple devices, does that make it social?  Personally, I don’t think so.  Being social is about interaction and community.  So, if that app enables customers to easily interact with each other in some kind of semi-private walled garden, then perhaps it is social. 

I can envision B2B apps focused on addressing frequently asked customer questions.  As a long time HP employee in my past life, I can image HP apps to troubleshoot printing problems, a SMB focused app to configure servers, or an app to easily locate your nearest value added reseller (VAR). Other companies could leverage the data associated with calls coming into their 800 numbers to develop apps that easily and quickly address frequently asked customer questions.  By using social networks to inform their constituents that these apps exist and are available for download to defined devices, these companies leverage the two hottest trends (other than cloud computing), apps and social media to enrich their customer’s experiences.

Perhaps we need an app to help us keep up with all the new technologies that are emerging.  Ooops, perhaps that is the new Mashable app!

What’s your perspective?



Overcoming Internal Social Media Hurdles

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 23, 2010

Are you afraid that your corporate culture and/or hierarchical organization structure are stifling your attempts at social media?  Then you need to take a step back and consider how to leverage social media in a way that balances culture, organization and open communication.

If your hurdle is related to culture, you must accept that it is not easy to change the corporate culture.  But, you can adapt.  For example, if your culture is one that struggles in the adoption of new technology, you probably haven’t even started using social media yet.  Your first goal should be to gain executive commitment for the use of social networking platforms as an additional communication channel.  You should be clear in your goals for using social media (i.e., thought leadership, market awareness, lead generation, etc.).  You could also find examples of other companies in your industry that are using social media.  You will want to have a clear, measurable strategy that will demonstrate clear benefits for adopting social media.


If your culture is one of privacy and protection of intellectual property, there is still a place for social media.  Employee use of social networking platforms is not an automatic disclosure of corporate secrets!  However, your overall social media plan should include definition of a social media policy that provides guidelines forwhat platforms the company will use, how employees use thesesocial networks, what kind of information can be shared (or not), and ramifications for violating these guidelines.  Innovative companies often create market shifting technology and want to protect this technology.  However, these same companies often have unique perspectives on the industry or intriguing histories of bringing products to market.  Social media provides a forum for sharing perspectives, without giving away IP, and inviting conversation that may lead to the next big innovation.

If your challenge is related to organizational structure, it is likely that the primary concern is one of employee empowerment.  Employees that do not feel empowered are unlikely to be comfortable with the open communication style required.  While the marketing department could be empowered to lead the effort, there are other options.  An option that will begin to build cross-company employee interest is to gain executive support and sponsorship.  Once you gain that support, work with your executive sponsor to develop an internal communication plan regarding the company’s development of a social media strategy.  This will provide employees with an ongoing view of the goals of the strategy and executive support for it.  By the time it is time to implement the strategy, some employees will be eager to participate thus alleviating the pressure on the marketing department.

These are just a few examples of overcoming cultural or organizational challenges before implementing a social media strategy.  Social media provides many benefits that make it well worth the effort to knock down internal hurdles.  What are the hurdles your company is facing?

What’s your perspective?



Does Your Organizational Structure Inhibit Social Networking?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

As marketers plan their social media strategy, they usually focus on content, resources and platforms.  I rarely hear anyone discuss organizational structure.  Yet, a company’s organizational model can reveal a lot about how they will use social networking platforms.  The structure of an organization impacts processes and behaviors that will reflect company and employee comfort with the openness and interactivity of social media. 

The primary organization structures are:

Structure

Characteristics

Adoption of Social Media

Functional

-          Employees perform a specific set of tasks (i.e., marketing, engineering, sales, etc.)

-          Focus on operational efficiency and economies of scale

-          Fosters technical expertise

-          Creates silos

-          Communication across silos is difficult

-          Focus on process, hierarchy and control

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media most likely to be pursued by marketing department only

-          Employees may not feel empowered to communicate socially  

-          Social media primarily used to reinforce outbound marketing messaging

Divisional

-          Employees organized by product or geography

-          Employees perform specific functions within the divisional structure

-          High accountability for achieving goals

-          Communication encouraged across function to achieve goals

-          Little interaction between divisions

-          Hierarchical within the division

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media effort led by marketing with intent to include other functions

-          Strong interest in gaining external feedback

Matrix

-          Employees organized by function and product

-          Structure reinforces and broadens employee expertise

-          Reduces organizational silos

-          Requires clear communication of goals, objectives and metrics

-          Poor communication can create confusion and/or stress

-          Focus on communication will foster interest in use of social networks as extension of communication model

-          Multi-tasking employees will easily adapt

-          Requires clarity in how social media will support goals & objectives

-          Collaborative environment will easily adapt to interactive nature of social media

 

The focus here is primarily around structure and does not take into account culture or communication style, which was discussed in a previous posting.  The level of bureaucracy in a company may impact willingness to communicate effectively internally, externally or on social networks. You may want to consider the impact of social media on existing organizational structures, business processes and communication methods.  While full scale reorganization is not the goal, education and training may help management and/or employees understand how the use of social media influences the existing business model.

While organizational theory segments company structures into the simple models referenced above, it is likely that your company reflects some mix of the models noted.  Your company’s approach to social media will reflect a combination of cultural and organizational influences.  It is important to recognize the challenges they may represent when building and implementing a B2B social media strategy.

What’s your perspective?



HP, Culture Shock & Social Networks

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 09, 2010

Last week I began a discussion about the impact of corporate culture on a company’s level of comfort with social media.  While I was thinking about this week’s continuation of this discussion, the CEO of my former employer, HP, resigned due to allegations of misconduct.   This news hit the social airwaves like tsunami last Friday. I enjoyed a 24 year career of Hewlett-Packard Company, which means I was lucky enough to have learned from the founders, Bill and Dave, what it means to be open, ethical, moral and to do business with integrity.   One of the key elements of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct is to “think about how your decision or behavior would look in a press article”.  This is a good foundation for us to consider when we think about how a company’s culture and organizational model impact the company’s use of social media.

HP’s culture and what became known as the “HP Way” focused on innovation, integrity and collaboration.   This culture was a natural match for social media.  The predecessor to today’s social networks was “MBWA" or management by walking around.  In HP, this meant an ability to learn from others in your office.  Employees would mix and mingle and share experiences.  Many careers grew through discovery and learning from peers.   HP’s founders would have been cautious about protecting HP’s Intellectual Property but they would have loved the ability to crowd source innovative concepts. However, over the past decade or so, the culture at HP changed.  This was a result of both external and internal forces.

External forces include the internet and the rampant availability of information.  They also include the increased demands from the financial services sector for all companies to provide and meet quarterly estimates.  This kind of instant gratification will change the way any company works.  Internal forces took the shape of CEOs and managers hired to lead change (defined in many diverse ways) but who each also had personal agendas.  In all cases the “HP Way” was deemed out dated and the collaboration of old gave way to siloed, hierarchical organizations with formerly empowered employees fearful of making even the smallest mistake.  Could Mark Hurd's HP, with a culture of cost containment, hierarchical decision making and limited employee empowerment, succeed in social media?

Interestingly, the answer is yes.  Consistent with its current command and control model, HP has a well defined, publically available, blogging policy.  They even have a digital media council, which includes representatives from all business units, that sets the policy for how HP will participate in social networks.  Any employee that will represent the company on a social network must take the requisite training.  So, HP empowers its employees with guidelines of expected behavior.  Is that really empowerment? I check on various HP blogs from time to time and follow several twitter feeds.  I find them interesting but cautious.  I think that HP could use social media as more than another PR channel.  I believe this is indicative of the internal culture.  That said, HP is number 22 on the NetPropex Social Index, which measures the social network activity of the largest U.S. corporations across a variety of social platforms.  Imagine what HP's score would be if the former culture of openness and collaboration was prevalent.

As a former HP employee and current HP shareholder, I hope HP’s next CEO balances innovation and operational excellence.  I hope they remember that their 300,000+ employees are the company’s biggest asset.  I hope they empower them to connect, communicate and collaborate, using social media, with their peers both inside and outside the company to create and innovate market changing solutions.

What’s your perspective?



Company Culture and Adoption of Social Networking

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 02, 2010

You’re thinking about social media.  You’re convinced you need to have a plan to add social media to your existing marketing and/or communication strategy.  You’re thinking, well, we’ll just tiptoe into this effort, participate in a few social networks and see what happens.  There is nothing wrong with this plan, except you should think about  your corporate culture.  Of course, there are other details you also need to consider, but for the sake of this conversation, let’s focus on corporate culture.

Does your culture inhibit executive or employee adoption of social networking tools?  Do employees feel empowered to publically communicate on behalf of the company?  Do executives understand the openness of social conversations?

I’ve had comments to several of my blogs related to B2B social media, emphasizing the importance of culture.  So, I’ve done some thinking on this and refreshed my memory as to the different types of corporate cultures (it’s been a long time since those undergrad and MBA courses on organizational theory).  Culture is a combination of shared values, attitudes, assumptions, beliefs and behaviors.  Culture is grounded in the assumptions about how people interact.

A successful social media strategy is best achieved when there is a corporate culture that balances tops down direction with bottoms up initiative with external (customer) facing communication.  However, existing corporate cultures can inhibit this balance and subsequently the success of a social media strategy.  Which of these cultures best reflects your company?

Adaptive – just like it sounds, this company tries new processes, solutions, business models to see what works best.  This company is usually very externally focused and will adopt solutions that help them communicate effectively and efficiently.  This culture will easily adapt to social networks for business use.

Inert – this type of company is very internally focused and struggles to deal with new ideas.  In technology parlance, they are a laggard when it comes to adopting new technology.  This culture will be one of the last companies to adopt social networking.

Networked – this is a sociable company, but employees exhibit little company loyalty.  This company may lag a bit in adopting new ideas solely due to high employee turnover.  Once this company has decided to use social networks, employees will take advantage of it and it may foster employee retention.

Mercenary - this culture is ruthless and highly competitive.  If the new solution doesn’t fulfill the goal to win, it is not considered.  Without a strong ROI argument, this kind of company will not leverage social networks at the business level.

Fragmented – this company is a loose alliance of independent workers (i.e., law firm).  If a solution can be easily adopted by these workers and help them achieve their goals, it’s a winner, but it is unlikely that all workers will utilize the solution at the same level.

I’ll be writing more about company cultures and organizational dynamics as it relates to B2B social networks over the next few weeks.  Do these cultures resonate with you?  What kind of culture does your company exhibit? 

What’s your perspective?



Tips for Incorporating Online Video into Your Communications Strategy

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 19, 2010

I recently read an IDC Whitepaper about the 360º Approach to Video.  I've written about companies using a 360º approach to define marketing strategies  and was definitely interested in IDC's opinion on video.  I consider video one of many tools that any company can use to connect and communicate with customers, partner or employees.  Video is memorable and is used for executive communications, customer education, employee training, product demos, customer testimonials and more.  Video is personal and can be consumed live or on-demand in the form of streaming media, webinar or teleconference.

The IDC whitepaper, which is sponsored by Online Video Platfrom vendor Kyte, primarily highlight features of privately funded Kyte.  However, it also touches on some relevants shifts in the market place:

1. Websites have become more interactive.  The days of one-way communication are gone and customers or consumers have an expecation for enticing, visually appealing, interactive sites.

2.  Video is everywhere.  This means video is on your website, on YouTube or Vimeo channels, on Facebook,on mobile devices and many other locations or devices.

3.  Content comes from many sources.  While companies produce a lot of their own content (i.e., executive communications, product training, ads, customer testimonials, etc.), they also invite customers to submit their own user-generated content

If you are thinking about how to incorporate video into your communications strategy.  Consider the following tips:

1.  PurposeWhat are you communicating with the video?  Are you educating, informing, inviting, or sharing?  These are all different types of stories and each story may be best told using different styles.  For example, if your video is to share your quarterly financial status, this is likely a professionally produced event with a well structured script.  However, if your are sharing information about an upcoming event or new product, you might decide that authenticity and personality are more important.  While you still have a script the style of the video may be more casual.  Alternatively, you may invite customers to share their experiences at an event or training.  They thoughts could be capture live and in person or via video uploads to a defined site.  If you define your goals for using video, it will make it easier to make decisions about what kind of content to create. Tip:  Align purpose and video style.

2.  CustomerWhere and how will your customers consume your video?  Are they in an office, at home or on the go?  Will they access content using their PC or a mobile device?  What operating system, browser, video player or video codecs will these devices use?  Is there an expection for live or social network interaction?  Understanding the answers to these questions, will help define the requirements for any online video solutions that you consider.  Tip:  Undertanding your target audience and their communication needs will drive business and technical requirements.

2. InfrastructureHow will you handle video content?  Will you produce and manage your video assets on an in-house system or will you leverage an online service?  In either case, consider its features and functionalities (i.e., codecs supported, bitrates, end user interface, ease of use, server requirements, metadata model, social/community features, digital rights management, analytics and reporting, etc.) related to your goals.  In addition, consider how it will integrate with other enterprise applications, impact on corporate network, level of expertise required and support models.  Tip:  Align infrastructure requirements to your goals to identify the relevant solution.

Content is valuable.  Video is memorable.  Create a valuable and memorable online video strategy thinking about who your customers are, where they are and how will you need to be able to share video content with them.  For a list of leading online video platform vendors check out:  www.streamingmedia.com, www.onlinevideo.net ir www.vidcompare.com

How are you using video to communicate your story? 

What's your perspective?



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?