One of the topics that has come up recently with our members is the topic of building social media and community advocates within their organization. Some of them are lucky in that they were hired to do community management and therefore have a sponsor above them but some of our members are their organization’s vanguards, actively pushing for a more community-based approach but without much air cover. Amber Naslund talked about the importance of being an internal change agent quite eloquently. She is right on in that the goal of community building is to be a more social and humane organization but getting from A to Z is a long circuitous route and often organizations start with social media simply because that is how their customers are interacting but find pretty quickly that to do it well, it requires so much more than that.
We have a number of members who likely spend the majority of their time evangelizing and training – over and over and over – internally. They are making huge strides but the individuals that are good at internal advocacy may or may not be the same people that are good at external advocacy. Typically, many of the external advocates are people who love wearing many hats, creating content, getting in to the mix of things, and having something different to do every day. What’s often needed internally is doing the same thing, repeatedly, with lots of different teams. It can be alternately interesting, frustrating, boring, and occasionally maddening. Changing culture and getting people to do things in different ways takes a very long time and a lot of patience – and that is with executive leadership.
So what are some of the best practices in getting people to think differently and use a new set of tools?
Informal training – lunch & learns, coffee klatches, un-advisory groups, and office hours on a vast array of topics for people to learn about what social media is and what it means to their job and your organization.
Exposure – customer blog posts and tweets on the bathroom walls, team or executive emails celebrating small successes, and continuous recognition of people who are starting to get it (Bob’s first blog post! Emily’s first reply from a major customer! Wow – we resolved a problem in 2.9 seconds because Harry saw it and took the initiative to reply! Yay!) It can seem horribly trite to keep at this but critically important. Take the idea of ambient intimacy that Twitters creates between two people and use it to familiarize people, in small digestible chunks, with social media’s influence.
One-on-One Training – While this is impossible to do with everyone, it is immensely valuable to schedule a meeting slot and sit down with someone to walk them through how a tool, process or application works. And no, a webcast is not enough, they will never look at it. Spending the time to show them how you use something and how they might is really critical.
Understanding – Is your boss still not really getting why you think this is all so important? Do you know what their hot button items are? Can you go and demonstrate how those concerns might be better addressed with new tools or processes? This requires slowing down, understanding their context, and thinking creatively about the use cases that might peak their interest.
Templates – templates can be a really great way of reducing peoples intimidation of new tools. Blogs, wikis, and a Twitter box all stare blankly back at people who don’t know what the heck to do with it. Give people explicit things to try. i.e. Tweet once a day about the most interesting thing you heard or read. Write a blog post once a week about something you saw in the organization that you would like to encourage. Keep a wiki page of all the links that you find pertaining to your latest project.
Innocuous Topics – start with topics that people are interested in but are not threatening to anyone in the organization. Ideas for cutting expenses, holiday party plans, ideas for topics at company meetings, the best dishes in the cafeteria… whatever it is, get people motivated to learn a tool by finding something that people care about to some degree but one that won’t make people nervous.
It’s a daily chore. Not so dissimilar to washing your hair.