Rob is the Senior Vice President of User Experience at FleishmanHillard.

You can reach him at​

They need to be armed with the right amount of information about how social platforms work, your company’s policies on social media communication, and a host of other issues.

Will you only listen to people talking about you, or are you interested in what people are saying about your competition?

Brands should not treat social as a broadcast medium. Conversation is key.

Day 11:

Rocking A Social Enterprise
– The Building Blocks to Electrifying Social Media

​I used to be in a band. I was so serious about it that I spent my first couple years out of college trying to make it as a rock star and discovered that being in a touring band is a lot of work. Every day was filled with booking gigs, transportation, writing music, wooing the indie press, record and merchandise distribution followed by a gig if we were lucky. It was a business that required each band member to have skills outside of playing his or her instruments.

Now, I’m obviously not a rock star, but as a side effect of spending years in a band, I tend to think about business in similar ways. Social media at the enterprise level requires so many people with different skills and goals, and I can’t help but compare our philosophy on creating a social enterprise to the process of forming a band.

We read about the attention-grabbing moments in social media, but those moments are really the result of a mountain of planning and infrastructure. Chevrolet and its FleishmanHillard team recently had one of those moments with the World Series and its now-famous #TechnologyAndStuff reputation management moment. However, this was only one of the well-publicized social conversations that Chevrolet has had this year, and there are small victories every day. Having a solid strategy and support across the enterprise can make “wins” in social media much more common, however big or small. It’s the difference between making a good album with a hit single or being a one-hit wonder.

So how do we go about doing that?

Governance – Identifying your band members

Every band needs people to play their instruments well and play them well together. The first step is to get everyone on the same page and define clear parts. Who will be the liaison for Public Relations, Marketing, Legal and Customer Care? Will Media have a stake? Who will be designated to talk to the organization’s leadership about the role of social media and what it’s doing to further business goals?

We like to say that everybody and nobody owns social media, but every band needs a singer who is the de facto “leader.” The same is true with social media, where one team should serve as a gatekeeper for posting content to all brand channels while working with the other groups to make sure everybody has a voice. We call this the Social Center of Expertise. This is your band.

Infrastructure – If you’re gonna play, you’re gonna need instruments

If a band plays acoustic instruments, it’s fairly easy to play to a small crowd. But if you want to play to a stadium, you need more powerful gear. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Weibo, WeChat, Instagram – all platforms have native ways to post content and engage with an audience, but enterprise-level tools help manage common tasks such as content creation and response management among all channels.

Creating and approving content among a team of stakeholders is difficult to do over email and creates an environment where mistakes are easy to make. Workflows within tools minimize the amount of your process that is institutional knowledge and makes it easier for new team members to know who should be approving what.

An often overlooked aspect of social media infrastructure is keeping track of all of your brand’s channels and users. If your brand is large and was around during the early days of the social media boom, there’s a chance that there are some Facebook pages out there started by divisions and later forgotten. Get a handle on these as well as any imposter pages you find out in the social media universe since they pose a threat to brand’s reputation.

Education – You can’t write a song if you don’t know how to play

Chances are that the people who are involved with your Center of Expertise will already know about the social space, but what about your leadership, sales teams, or customer care specialists?

These individuals will occasionally need to participate in social conversations, and they need to be armed with the right amount of information about how social platforms work, your company’s policies on social media communication, and a host of other issues.

Education for colleagues on other teams can take the form of a monthly webinar, email newsletters, short how-to videos, and style guides. All educational assets should be archived in a central repository and accessible to everybody within the organization, which stresses the importance of setting up a strategy for infrastructure.

Strategy – Are you a metal band or an orchestra?

There are so many things that could be involved in determining a brand’s social media strategy that it can quickly become overwhelming. Start by asking some simple questions of the people in your band.

  • What key messages need to be conveyed in social? This is the starting point for your social voice.
  • What are the two main things each band member wants to accomplish by playing in the social space? This is the starting point for your social KPIs.
  • Should customer complaints be handled on the same channel as your brand’s marketing messages, or should a separate channel be created to have those conversations with customers? This is the starting point for your engagement strategy.
  • What information will you ask to collect from your audience, and how should it be stored? This is the starting point for your social CRM strategy.
  • Will your channels be global, or will you create channels for each market? This is the starting point for your channel strategy.

Listening and Analytics – Is your music any good, and is it selling?

You want people to like you, no matter what kind of music you make. The best way to determine your success is to listen to what people are saying about you.

Listening to social media conversations is a key stone of our social building blocks. It can influence the entire direction of tools and infrastructure decisions. Decide on how manual you want your process to be, or if people already are talking about your brand a lot in the social space, you may decide that you need things like sentiment analysis to be automated.

Decide what kinds of conversations you want to monitor. Will you only listen to people talking about you, or are you interested in what people are saying about your competition? Chances are these decisions will affect how many tools you’ll need. There are very few tools that will do everything you want in the way you want them to do it.

Once you have your listening tools strategy, how will you present the data, and to whom will you present it? Understand that people are busy, so reports and dashboards of how your brand is doing out in social media should be tailored to the audience.

Content – Of course, you have to write some songs

In fact, you’re going to have to write a lot of songs before you start consistently making great music. Experiment, pay attention to what works well with the people who show up, and tweak your content to perform better. Remember that what works on Facebook may not necessarily work on Instagram, so change up your playlist and treat every audience like it’s special. Consider what topics you’ll talk about, messages that your partners in Marketing or Legal need to get across, the type of post you’re going to make (photo, video, text, etc.), as well as when you plan to post it.

Engagement – Every good band needs a fan club

I discovered that my band sold more albums and merchandise on the nights we mixed it up with the crowd after the show. Granted, I occasionally ran into criticism, but in the end it was always better to engage.

Similarly, brands should not treat social as a broadcast medium. Conversation is key. Consider these two things when beginning your engagement strategy: 1) Where will you engage, and 2) what scenario plans do you need?

Where to engage

Is your brand being talked about on forums? What about review sites? Is it appropriate for you to engage in those places in addition to your owned channels? Are you allowed to engage there? Get a list of places, a plan, and permission, and then mix it up with your fans out in the crowd.

Scenario plans

Determine the kinds of situations where you will want to respond then get your messages down and identify who will lead on constructing and approving the response. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • National crisis/disaster
  • Reputation management issues
  • Awards
  • Celebrity engagement

Innovation – How do we get inducted into the Hall of Fame?

Of course, it’s impossible to make it as a band if you don’t have raw talent and creativity, the bandwidth to recognize opportunities and new trends. Remember, these elements are only the hit single from a platinum album. Keep pushing for consistent hits and staying power for your band.

Need help getting you building blocks for social rock stardom in place? Contact me.​