Here is a method of having an actionable conversation about corporate social media training within your organization and how you can develop a better understanding of cross-departmental benefits.
The Business Case
One of the biggest problems with corporate social media is that departmental teams fail to think outside the project box they are looking at.
This often means that they are trying to force a square cog (social media) into a round hole (the immediate project requirements.)
The core issue with this is that we are not dealing with square cogs and round holes.
We are dealing with a conversation about the way dozens of different pieces plug into a limitless number of business scenarios.
The simple reality is that most people don’t have a deep understanding of available solutions and force the incorrect assumptions into place.
While we want to categorize social media into something we can either adopt or dismiss, we need to think about how the term ‘social media’ is has been used to improperly label innovation within the corporate structure. Most of us like to think of social media as a ‘digital marketing’ channel and as a ‘buzz’ phrase connecting to PR and word-of-mouth. In many cases we compound the issue by grouping it with web design, graphic arts, and online advertising.
Social media is the generalized term for ‘all things belonging to the web’ ….
We need to first agree on what social media is and is not.
We need a process for clarity…
What matters is that you can sit down with a project team and agree what is and is not in the scope of your project.
The Visual Solution
Imagine your team has fifty different components it needs to consider for you net project. These components can range from business process points including customer service and product design, to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Each one of these components is going to be placed into a circle on a basic diagram.
The sample below demonstrates 50+ items that could go into a conversation about launching a new product.
The idea behind the process is fairly simple: while the sample has 50+ components we could be dealing with anywhere from two to a hundred items.
While we may have brainstormed 50+ items for our project team, we can easily group together like-minded items that belong to the same general niche within the project.
By taking the above items I’ve broken out some groupings for a conversation about my next social project.
- Social Media Content Types
- Social Media Platforms
- Search Engines
- Location Based Elements
- Technology / IT issues
- Business Unit Considerations
- Business Validation
- Market Intelligence
What Social Media Is and Is Not
One of the most important steps of having this information on one sheet of paper is to identify what is and is not included in the current business conversation. It is critical to purposely remove an item from the conversation instead of assuming it is not included.
- Removing it means everyone knows about it.
- Assuming it means someone may not know it even exists.
Simply take your conversation map out and cross off any topics that are not involved in the current project scope. Before any item is removed from the conversation it should be confirmed that everyone in the decision making team actually knows what it is!
Exercise #1 – Discovering Areas of Impact
Once you have 3-4 categories established, print out a few copies of the circles on paper and cut them apart.
During your group conversation you should practice moving through several areas of forced ideation:
- randomly pull three to five circles and detail how the five elements interact.
- take the same three to five circles and detail best case scenario and worse case scenario
- take three to five circles and detail employee, management, and executive perspective
- take three to five circles and detail internal (sales, marketing, HR) vs external (customer, prospect, market) perspective
Exercise #2 – Identifying Areas of Education
Pull out a pen and rate each circle from 1 to 5 based upon the expertise and understanding of the people within the decision making conversation.
- limited knowledge, no practical hands-on experience
- casual understanding, basic understanding
- recurring monthly experience, familiarity with daily usage
- can recite best practices to others, strong understanding of topic
- expert understanding, forward looking perspective, can relate topic to business impacts
During the rating process you should maintain a heavy bias towards any decision that is made using a sphere of expertise that uses a 1,2, or 3 rating. A rating of 1 to 3 means that your group has a restricted view of the topics being affected and you are making a blind decision about the risks, benefits, and revenue impacts.
While the two sample exercises above only introduce some of the basic areas of conversation you need to engage in, the basic framework above helps to identify your strengths and weaknesses concerning digital projects.
By understanding what topics overlap and what your core knowledge is surrounding those elements you can seek out and recruit subject matter experts to assist in making the right decisions.
When you develop you understanding of critical elements your understanding of social media and new technology being adopted into your business will quickly touch on hundreds of areas that have substantial business impacts. This will highlight where your corporate social media training initiatives can help reach tactical battles and strategic initiatives.