With conference season in full swing and so many places to turn for insights and education, I thought it was important to highlight what might be your biggest opportunity for education.
I’ve been a social strategist for several years now. Like many of my counterparts in the space, I found myself in this role without much social media training. In the beginning I couldn’t get my hands on enough social media education: I subscribed to just about every social media newsletter, followed all the “right” folks on Twitter, and attended the “must-see” conferences.
Surely all this great insight I was gleaning would help me figure out our social strategy, right?
Wrong. It took me all of about 60 days to quickly realize that all this external learning – while incredibly useful – was not the golden ticket to figure out our social strategy.
To really focus on our social strategy, I had to turn inside and not be distracted by all the new trends, tools, and networks bombarding me in my inbox and at these conferences. After all, the nuts and bolts of our strategy have less to do with social media networks and more to do with process and guest experience (online and offline). (tweet this)
I spent a good part of my first 6 months conducting interviews around the company. I reached out to just about anyone I could from all different business units to understand their roles, functions, and their stake in social. Luckily as I was the first dedicated social resource hired, this wasn’t a tough sell and many people were reaching out to me directly.
We created a social media committee to represent these different stakeholders and ensure they had a seat at the table. And of course, our agenda started with the conversations taking place in social. We looked at what was being said about our brands and quickly identified the opportunities.
Anyone who has conducted a thorough social listening assessment can probably relate to this – it opens up a lot of internal questions. Social is the ultimate disruptor, highlighting opportunities for efficiency and collaboration that any company, not to mention a multi-branded global enterprise may face.
As we dug into the conversation, I kept searching for answers. My quest would often begin with one department and end with two or three more departments. The more I dug in, the more I was learning about our process, culture, and business practices.
The beauty of social media is that it shines a spotlight on opportunities for cross-team partnerships and collaboration where they once didn’t exist or weren’t necessary. Any strategist and company that welcomes this opportunity with open arms will be the better for it. This collaboration is what promotes mutual understanding and ultimately leads to a better strategy and a better customer experience. Enterprises that are leading in the social space are the ones that are investing in this cross-team collaboration. For example, they’re developing systems and processes to ensure the marketing manager, customer service representative, communications specialist, media buyer, and customer database analyst (just to name a few) are coming together in real time to collaborate and engage – this collaboration requires the broader organization to understand all of its intricate processes. To achieve external social excellence, we must all have a better understanding of our internal process and the entire customer journey.
This ongoing learning process is not always easy. Many strategists come in and have these good intentions at the beginning – they knock on all the doors and ask for a seat at the table and dive in headfirst. But as time goes on and strategies get underway, they slowly stop knocking. They sometimes sit back a bit more comfortable in their chair and feel they have a “handle” on it – that is until some issue arises in social! – even I’m guilty of this at times.
As we shed our “new skin” we become a bit more relaxed and lose some of our bite. It’s important to find that passion you had on day 1 and begin knocking on the doors again. Don’t stop asking “why?” no matter how long you’ve been at the company. This is what makes a great social strategist. (tweet this)
So, as you think through where next to take your social strategy, don’t let external conferences and education outshine the potential to learn internally. Create your own conference track and pick a department or departments you need to understand more and start knocking. You may be amazed at what strategies this education can lead to.