Cures Chasing a Disease – How to Govern a Social Media Portfolio
Social Media is new and companies aren’t yet capable of managing it like traditional business processes. Previously, I discussed how managing Social Media through a portfolio approach can help organizations reduce risk and increase overall success for the following reasons:
- Diversification – Increase overall return through multiple small bets in Social Media
- Focus – Avoid distraction by focusing Social Media efforts on specific business objectives
- Knowledge Transfer – Apply best practices and lessons learned to improve ALL components of a Social Media portfolio
“Cures Chasing a Disease” – Social Media in Business
Last week at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, I argued that organizations tend to look at Social Media as a “Cure Chasing a Disease”. As practitioners, we become excited about Social Media technologies and we quickly try to apply them to a problem that customers, our business, or our supply chain don’t even have.
Organizational Benefits from a Portfolio Approach to Social Media
- Determine which strategic business objectives are best solved with Social Media tools through narrower scope
- Gain broad Social Media experience through multiple efforts at a smaller scale
- Embed Social Media capabilities throughout an organization by dividing execution from governance
Governing a Social Media Portfolio
Here’s a simple framework to help your organization better think about a portfolio
- Project Identification and Selection
- Using Metrics to Tell a Story rather than Evaluate a Project
- Spread Best Practices and Apply Lessons From Failures
1 – Project Identification and Selection
- Define Business Objectives – Never start with the tool
- Instead, figure out what you’re trying to do for your business. It could be as simple as “Promote new product” or “Improve customer service.”
- The greatest thing about having good business objectives is that metrics become much easier to define. You don’t have to guess about what to measure, instead you have a clear goal which makes it easy to derive metrics.
- Distribute Social Media Projects – Avoid centralized ownership
- Recent research from Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang defined a “Hub and Spoke” model for Social Media governance. Owyang summarizes, “The hub facilitates resource sharing and cross-functional communications (via the “spokes” in the wheel) to those at the edge of the organization (or the ‘tire’)”.
- Governing Social Media from a central location, rather than claiming full-ownership, helps individual groups apply specific knowledge and detailed experience to the problems they know best.
- Additionally, it helps leadership see the business benefits as part of a broader effort.
2 – Using Metrics to Tell a Story
- Use metrics as characters in a story – Avoid “One Number to Rule Them All”
- Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing this question, “How do we measure Social Media”?
- If it were as easy as compiling a number, throwing it on a dashboard, and then applying resources to red lights, we wouldn’t need leadership. If you’re still stuck, Rachel Happe gives a great list of examples of Social Media metrics.
- Use a variety of metrics to tell a story to your organization. For example say your business objective is “to improve customer service”. If you have a high number of pageviews on a customer service portal, but few of them come from search, you can use a story to make a case for investment in Search Engine Optimization.
3 – Share Best Practices and Apply Lessons from Failures
- Share Best Practices Quickly – Use Social Media!
- A great business objective that can be solved by Social Media is “Disseminate information to employees”. The job of the governing body is to identify those groups that are meeting business objectives and connecting them with similar efforts across the organization.
- Organizations are already good at this using cross-functional teams, internal communications, and training/seminars to spread the knowledge. The key is to identify which functions of the organization need this information.
- Celebrate Failure – Reward Those Who Take Risks
- A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G, consistently remarked that he was looking for a new product success rate around 50-60%. He argued that if you take that any higher, you’re not taking enough risks.
- The same principle applies to Social Media. If you’re succeeding 100% of the time, you’re probably not taking enough risk. So communicate to your employees that failure is okay so long as the entire organization can learn from mistakes and apply those to future projects.
Written By Ben Foster
In: Leadership and Management, Strategy