Most people will tell you that you need have a strategy in social media. I’ve probably said it before when I spoke on panels about it. I believe at some point, I’ve also suggested that having a big picture in mind is key to growing an effective, long-term social media program.
A vision is not a strategy, but a strategy connects to the vision. In order to grow your social program, you must think about the bigger picture and never lose sight of it. I’ll clue you in to what’s involved when developing a vision for your social business.
This post is a part of my Social Business Explained blog series for social media professionals and community managers so they can create sustainable social businesses.
Where to begin? I’m not good at communicating big-picture visionary kind of stuff, but I’ll give it a shot.
First, you ought to ignore your past experiences. It’s tough, but ignore the past failures, arguments and anything else that got in your way thus far. This is important. If you don’t accept the past as the past, you will carry it forward in your vision, and cause it to be stunted. With all the metaphors with “vision” and eyesight, think about a pair of dirty eye glasses. Even if you put them on, it will severely impair your vision, despite having a better perception of the reality around you.
If you need to, write down whatever is holding you back. Do this so you can either make peace with it or so you can intentionally ignore it so it doesn’t come through in your vision.
Simple, right? I assure you that it’s not. It takes a lot of creative thinking and exploration to discover why your social program even exists.
Think about the possibilities for your social program. Establish a frame of mind so you create the outcome. Ignore the lack of resources. Ignore the lack of immediate support (but you’ll get it later). Basically, when you sell your social program to the rest of the organization, your vision is what will be the deciding factor as to whether people jump on board or silently walk away. It’s okay if a vision isn’t easy. If it isn’t, that’s okay, it’s not a contract with a specific due-date, but it is an on-going commitment that your social program is aiming for. The reality is, when you have a very clear vision, you will gain the buy-in and will accomplish it in a reasonable amount of time.
So here are several areas to consider with your social program. As you can imagine, this doesn’t apply to every organization, but might apply to yours:
- Support the marketing and sales objectives in creative and innovative ways
- Empower customer service to independently provide amazing service to people wherever customers are.
- Incorporate live market research and customer engagement throughout our company’s research and development.
- Reduce operational costs while scaling customer communications.
- Eliminate waste in the organization through employee to employee digital collaboration
- Improve customer experience by taking action on customer feedback.
- Enable strong voices in the company to speak out openly and transparently to improve brand awareness, thought leadership and problem-solving abilities.
- Develop powerful business relationships with fresh minds that you wouldn’t normally have discovered.
… Okay, I think you get the idea. Now, these aren’t vision statements; rather, they are just ideas to get you going on the magnitude of your vision statement for your social business program. Think big.
Having a vision statement isn’t for public image. It is an internal proclamation on the long-term growth of the social program. It should instantly connect with employees and executives equally and it should be authentic in nature. A shortcut to establishing your vision is to find your WHY. Simon Sinek has a much better explanation on this , but when you find your WHY, the HOW and the WHAT falls right into place.
You may notice that your social business vision does not deviate far from the company’s vision. If your company’s vision is to simply make a ton of money, then well, your social program is likely to be geared around that. But most organizations that are ready to become social, tend to have a higher purpose than profits and revenue.
… We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
–President John F. Kennedy (September 12, 1962)
An example of a great vision statement was when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed that we would put a man on the moon and return him back safely. It was unreasonable for him to expect this. We had practically zero experience with space travel, yet he called out a larger objective for Americans to unite in achieving. The mission to the moon probably did little to stimulate the economy or improve quality of life for us. However, it did force us to become the epicenter of innovation, focus and beat our international foes in the space race. Your vision statement is one that is unreasonable, bold and enduring.
Sorry for not being more specific in suggesting a vision. This is up to you to create, which will be unique to every organization. You have a vision so that it serves as the guiding light for your social business program. It may take you hopefully a few years to accomplish, but all the strategies and tactics that you create will be intentionally focused on the big picture that you created.
When you know your vision, feel confident about it and can communicate it clearly, it’s time to build out your strategy. You’ve probably been doing strategy and tactics for some time now, but it’s good to revisit those once you’ve established your social business vision. But, maybe you don’t have time to plan and strategize … well my next piece will help you find more time by saying no.