The 2012 State of Community Management report has a lot of information in it and at 57 pages it is beefy. To those of you who have digested the entire document, thank you and nicely done! But we also know it is a lot to wade through so we will be doing a series of blog posts to better show you the prescriptive, actionable information contained in it. In particular, this year we shared the initiatives we see our members undertaking as they mature in their social and community capabilities.
We also have 2 free webinars coming up that will talk about the report and highlight key findings – please join us!
- May 2 at 1:30pm Eastern: The State of Community Management in Social Business with Sandy Carter, IBM
- June 6 at noon Eastern: How Strong is Your Social Business? sponsored by Protiviti
In this first post we are concentrating on the Hierarchy stage (Community Maturity Model, Stage 1 or CMM1) of community capability and how organizations move into the Emergent stage (CMM2).
CMM1 is characterized by a chaotic jumble of initiatives and very inconsistent understanding of social tools and community management techniques. Most of the social media technologies and community structures are ad hoc, uncoordinated or experimental. Most likely there are corporate social media accounts, but typically very few employees and departments are contributing to them (or they have been outsourced to marketing agencies), and most employees are not encouraged to do business on social channels. Executives are wary of social technologies being more of a distraction than an opportunity and the culture is often distrustful of sharing information socially.
So how do you address the associated chaos and push that big boulder up the hill in order to move forward with your community initiatives?
Find a Leader
Leadership matters and having a point person who can act as traffic control in this early phase matters a great deal. We see this social business leader identified in a few different ways – sometimes assigned, sometimes they are hired in and sometimes they emerge because of their interest and passion.
Recruit executive sponsors
As well as a primary point person, it’s critical to start cultivating executive level sponsors. Help them understand the community opportunity by focusing on three aspects – the changing market dynamic, the impact on the organization, and how it helps them personally. Here is a great recent post that tells you how.
Identify cross-functional champions
The social web is exposing inconsistencies within organizations in a way that is critical to address and most functional areas within the organization have a stake in how those inconsistencies are resolved. For example, Is the response from Marketing the same as from Customer Service? When a customer decides they like what you do and want to work for you, do they get the same experience working with Human Resources as they did when they were a customer? There is someone in each of these departments that can see the wisdom in having a consistent voice & experience throughout the company. Find them, encourage them, and involve them so they can represent their group in how social and community initiatives are implemented.
Create an operational framework and roadmap
Executives are afraid that all this social media stuff is simply playing around. Map it to business goals, show them how it can help them save money and time and then show them how to execute on the opportunity. The Community Maturity Model has been used to provide this common operational framework and taxonomy. We use the CMM in our work at The Community Roundtable for the same reason.
Complete a social business audit or gap analysis
Most likely there are people and departments using social. How are they using it? What are they using it for? What are they missing? How do the current initiatives fit in with broader corporate goals? What could it be used for that is not being used for today and why would that be good for business? How could the organization most effectively use communities? What initiatives need to be undertaken in order to do so? This audit will not only provide the impetus to inventory current activity but it will jump start the enterprise-wide alignment process.
Start a listening program
For those stakeholders concerned about “controlling” the story of your brand it is helpful to show them that people are already talking…and show them what they are talking about. This helps to highlight to senior executives that if all this organic activity continues with zero involvement and little influence from the organization, it represents a big risk. If however, the organization is an active participant and can establish an influential voice, they will be able to better identify potential risks and be able to address them before a crisis emerges.
This process is not easy or quick. But once these steps are taken, organizations begin to have a more structured community approach that brings both a level of visibility and relief and it sets the organization up to contribute to business results.
TheCR Network is a membership network that provides strategic, tactical and professional development programming for community and social business leaders. The network enables members to connect and form lasting relationships with experts and peers as well as get access to vetted content.