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Saturday, January 7, 2012

There's Plenty of Room to Grow for Enterprise Social

On Thursday Altimeter Group released a report, titled "A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation", on the state of social media strategy in global corporations with over 1,000 employees. The report is quite telling, suggesting that most organizations in this category simply aren't properly aligning business values with social media strategy and lack the proper tools to manage their social presence online. As one of the Domain Experts considered in the report, I thought I'd chime in.

No surprise to me, the report suggests that from their sample of 144 Enterprise-class corporations, organizations of this caliber typically manage an average of 178 total social media accounts online. Managing such a presence, it is quite a challenge in such a large organization to gain a hold, properly inventory, set proper education, and provide all the right tools to manage so many social presences.

From my perspective, there are 2 ways to solve this problem:

  1. Simplify your presence online and instead facilitate, and outsource to community that is passionate about your brand and can help spread further knowledge about your product or message.
  2. Improve the tools for members of your organization, simplifying the process of Social Media Management and educate employees on the proper use of these tools.
Facilitating Community

Oddly, I don't see many organizations, or social media tools vendors working towards this potential solution to the problem. I'm a big fan of using those already passionate about your brand, and empowering them to spread a message. Wal-mart's "Walmart Moms" accomplishes this well, empowering Mommy bloggers to talk about, and share passion for their brand. I'd love to see tools that allow companies like this to empower community to manage Facebook Pages, Twitter Accounts, and other similar presences, as a transparent community member, to talk about passion for the brand. Other tools could provide ways for brands to leverage proven community members in moderation of comments on Facebook Pages and similar presences.

The Altimeter report doesn't fully address the community aspect I mention above, but it does talk about simplifying, by suggesting businesses audit their current social media accounts and only keep those they are capable of supporting. They also recommend establishing business goals for social media - aligning your social media accounts to these goals will help determine which to keep and which to get rid of. This is something not enough companies are focusing at the moment. I know this will be a big focus for many in 2012. As Altimeter Group says, "the party's over".

Social Media Management System (SMMS) Tools

The Altimeter Group report covers this well. In the report, they suggest companies do an internal audit and determine what areas they fall short, and categorize themselves into a series of needs: Intense customer response, social broadcasting, platform campaign marketing, distributed brand presence, and tailored service and support. Identifying how your company fits into these categories can help you pick a vendor that fits your needs - the Altimeter Group report covers which Vendors fit into which categories.

As also mentioned in the report, establishing a proper workflow for your messaging is also vital. This has been one of my big frustrations - while there are solutions that fix this problem, finding one that can fully integrate with internal authorization systems is a difficult process. Individuals in the organization should only have access to your social media accounts that they need - if they only need moderation access, they should only be able to moderate. If they only need to be able to respond on behalf of the company, that should be the only thing they can do. There is big risk right now out there as companies are fragmented in their social media efforts. I fear if this continues someone could easily create a worm or virus that compromises and targets accounts of those that manage large corporate presences, and posts on their behalf. Proper permissions and access control through SMMS tools will fix this.

Yet, I'm still seeing the need for more customized integrations and better ways to integrate with internal systems.

There is Still Plenty of Opportunity

Altimeter Group suggests there are about 30 or so SMMS vendors in the field at the time. As I personally interview these I'm still seeing plenty of opportunity for better integration. For instance, as companies such as Microsoft get in the game you'll see more integrated systems into Microsoft's Dynamics CRM tool and other systems. Facebook itself is rumored to be improving its Pages product, as well as providing domain-specific groups for better communication within the organization. Better authentication and authorization integration and standards are still needed among the various vendors. More platform integration opportunities, and capabilities for developers to build tools on top of SMMS platforms, in a similar manner to what SalesForce has done, will need to be developed. At the same time there is a huge opportunity to simplify and make barrier to entry with these tools even easier, and education amongst the workforce an easier thing to do.

I'm embedding Altimeter Group's report below. I suggest, whether you're a small or large business Social Media Strategist, that you take a look at it, and evaluate where your business stands. Where do you have to improve within your own organization?


A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation
View more documents from Jeremiah Owyang

Disclosure: I am currently a Social Media Strategist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The opinions mentioned in this document do not reflect the opinions or doctrine of the organization I work for.

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