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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media

Graham Honeywill Amberbuzz Consulting Oy

10th May 2010 Version 1.1

Background and  introduction  .......................................................................................2 Why  is  this  important  to  me?  .........................................................................................4 What  is  a  Social  Media  Strategy?  ...................................................................................6 How  do  you  develop  and  launch  such  a  strategy?  ...................................................8 About  Amberbuzz  Consulting  Oy  ...............................................................................10

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media Background and introduction Social media is a recent phenomenon that is starting to challenge the operating models of many businesses. It provides a simple ubiquitous environment for consumers to share their views and ideas with each other. In doing so it creates an enormous opportunity for business leaders if they are prepared to adapt their internal and external communications framework from “telling” to “active listening”. Examples of opportunities? Example 1 – Brand advocacy – Just imagine how it would be if all your customers were so passionate about their experience with you and your company that they tell all their friends – no, insist to all their friends – that they experience the same. That’s brand advocacy. Social media provide fantastic opportunities for you to encourage, support, monitor and understand your power of brand advocacy. Remember – people will talk anyway, by embracing the opportunity you can become an active participant in the dialogue. Visit to experience how Dell Computers is creating brand advocates from the community. Example 2 – Corporate Active Listening. According to Wikipedia, “Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others. It focuses attention on the speaker. Suspending one’s own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important in order to fully attend to the speaker.” ( The ongoing development of Social Media forces businesses to become “Corporate Active Listeners”, or die. But isn’t that what business is all about anyway? Who wouldn’t want to be part of a business who’s focus was on active listening and responding to the needs of their customers and consumers? Example 3 – Social CRM. Customer Relationship Management – hands up who has NOT tried to implement this over recent years. CRM is often considered to be a system issue (let’s buy a CRM system) or a process issue (let’s develop a CRM process – and then buy a CRM system). However, according to Wikipedia, “Many initiatives often fail because implementation was limited to software installation, without providing the context, support and understanding for employees to learn, and take full advantage of the information systems.[2]” ( Customer_relationship_management). The processes and systems needed for effective CRM can only work if they are firmly embedded into the values of the company, visible in the daily workings of the company. By embracing Social Media, your business is well placed to deploy a successful CRM model by providing the “petri dish” for an effective CRM culture to develop and flourish.

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media This document outlines your considerations in developing a strategy to manage and lead development and use of social media, both internally, within the organisation, and externally between your organisation and your customers and partners.

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media Why is this important to me? Here are eleven scenarios that might apply to you. 1. You need to build the base for social networking within an organisation, between organisations, and between all stakeholders and advocates of an organisation’s brand (employees and consumers, customers and suppliers). 2. You want to integrate social media as part of your overall digital channel strategy, on the internet, on the intranet, on extranets with your business partners, using social media sites to improve “reach” and help drive traffic to your web sites. 3. You’re trying to establish the basic social media framework within an organisation, supporting knowledge management initiatives and projects. 4. You want to develop various forms of brand engagement, internally and externally building a framework for brand advocacy to improve brand value. 5. You want to develop your internal values through an open dialogue and simplified “many-to-many” communications model in the company 6. You want to finally solve that annoying customer CRM problem and recognise that the solution to CRM is not a process issue but a social networking issue. 7. You want to improve your network of strategic vendors and recognise the value of social networking as the basis for collaboration – especially regarding R&D partners. 8. You want to manage what other people are saying about you and your company in social media. 9. You want to introduce thought leadership and storytelling to your online content mix and recognise the value of social media to build thought leaders and find stories. 10.You need to increase the visibility and effectiveness of your organisation’s services and recognise the importance of digital communities in this – allowing consumers to help each other (while you learn from their dialogue). 11.You need to develop a platform architecture for your organisation that will integrate content management, document management, knowledge management, search & metadata management and identity management and support the above scenarios. As you can see from these scenarios, the complexity in building a social media strategy lies in the multiple perspectives that you need to consider. If you want to build an effective strategy, one that will last you for 2-3 years into the future, you need to at least evaluate all of the above situations, identify and engage those individuals within your organisation who are lying awake at night thinking about these issues. To make life even more difficult, as soon as you start thinking about social media you will find yourself facing several complex issues that drive to the heart of your business model: Competitors vs collaborators – what is the acceptable balance between the open sharing of information and ideas, and protecting the intellectual ©Amberbuzz Consulting          Page  4  of  10

Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media property and proprietary thinking of the company? Effective social media changes the balance between openness/trust and security/secrecy – for this reason it needs to be carefully planned. Business vs the individual – where is the dividing line between an individual’s own identity and views, and those of the organisation that she represents? In the real world there is an implicit distinction between the individual and their organisation, and we are somehow “wired” to recognise this distinction, with the corporate values as a guide. In the digital world this “wiring” needs to be reconsidered and the corporate values possibly reassessed. Hierarchy vs network – Do you work a hierarchical organisational structure? One where you need permission from your boss before talking with his boss? Naturally, social media forces a level democracy into any organisation. This is not to say that hierarchical management structures disappear but rather to say that communications become somehow more exciting, clearer and simpler – flatter. The “Corporate Active Listening” checklist (see separate article) can be used as a starting point for this – to help you answer the question “why?”

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media What is a Social Media Strategy? An effective social media strategy contains three broad components: 1. A description of the current state - what already exists that can be leveraged? Here you need to consider a range of topics including: · Corporate desire and intent – gather and analyze the existing corporate strategy, relationship marketing strategy, service strategies, brand strategy, knowledge management strategy, communications‘ strategy, enterprise architecture. · Individual desire and maturity – surveys and interviews to establish what people might already be doing or what they would expect and need to be doing – using the “perspectives” in this document as a guide – to assess the social networking maturity of the organization or target group. · Customer and partner expectations – surveys and interviews – with the customers/partners and with their internal relationship owners, the sales and R&D teams – to define the maturity of the market, identify development opportunities that might exist and social media activities already underway that you can leverage. · Current web site traffic sources – analysis of web site KPIs to identify how effectively social medial is delivering traffic to your web site. · Current operating model – the processes and capabilities already in place to manage and leverage social media. 2. Your target state, a “Digital strategic intent”,a clear set of objectives for the use of social media, internally and externally, integrated with the web channels. The target state must include: · Business intent – what aspects of the business strategy will be realized through internal or external social media · The community itself – how it will operate to deliver the business intent · The community audiences; why they will participate; their motives or expectations, the scenarios that describe their tasks and journeys · The content and capabilities needed to support this as a digital community · Integration with the brand and corporate values – the tone of voice for content and moderation activities · The moderation and security enablers that will be implemented as elements of the operating model · The integration points across channels - how the community will integrate with the web – to drive traffic – and the offline channels at events etc · The processes and platform capabilities needed to support this strategy. · KPIs – what success looks like to bring the business case to life 3. The roadmap and next steps to deliver the strategic intent, projects by period for the next 2/3 years: · social media developments online on the internet or intranet,

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media · · · · · ·

content strategy to support engagement and integrate with existing content plans, KPI development including optimisation development Communications plan (change management plan) Risk and mitigation plan Immediate next steps and quick wins Budget plan

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media How do you develop and launch such a strategy? The key to building such a strategy is effective engagement with the primary stakeholders, building on what already exists to create an objective and actionable plan that reflects the ideas and needs of the business. The overall process can be seen in 4 phases: Current state · Identify and interview key target group areas (knowledge management, marketing comms, services, sales development, internal and external communications, R&D development, online team, corporate security team) to discover existing plans and objectives that can be supported by social media activities. ·

Research how your brand and brand keywords are being reflected in social media (blogs, groups, issues).


Research competitor and best in class social media.


Conduct internal operating model review (SWOT analysis)


Analysis of web metrics with specific focus on “reach” metrics (sources of traffic to the web sites) and “nurture” metrics (returning visitors)


Internal survey to establish current social media awareness and involvement level


Desk evaluation of business, marketing, communications, internet, IT, brand strategies and plans (Deliverable – current state analysis and baseline)

Vision and target state · Explore conflicts (hierarchy/network; collaborate/secrecy; business/individual) ·

Identify high level personas and communications scenarios


Develop vision, “active communications” plan (“straw model”, review process)


Establish metrics, targets and business case (Deliverable – target state, personas and scenarios, high level business case and KPI framework)

Roadmap development and execution planning · Roadmap plan ·

KPI targets by period


Social media operating model (core/context analysis)


Enterprise architecture high level requirements (Deliverable – roadmap, immediate next steps, possibly also next project scope)

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media Launching the strategy (building your digital community) ·

Review the current behaviour and motives of the personas and the channels they currently use, and build scenarios to integrate the content of the new community into user “journeys” (reach, engage, activate, nurture)


Build a dynamic (co-created) content strategy – focus on the personas and scenarios from the previous step, (the target community) to identify what they want to experience, and balance this with what you want to share and facilitate, using your brand strategy, corporate security strategy, corporate values and existing web content strategy and plan as your guidelines.


Design the experience you plan to offer to your community, integrating existing social media (eg: facebook, twitter) and existing corporate web sites with the scenarios developed in the previous step.


Configure and/or build the tools and processes (registration, monitoring, back end processes, brand, tracking, content planning and creation, translation).


Plan and execute cross channel activities to seed awareness and interest. Launch and run the community

Each of these steps needs to be carefully planned and can vary from a simple desk exercise of a few days to a project of several weeks, depending on the scope, complexity and current state of material available.

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Corporate Active listening a strategy for social media About Amberbuzz Consulting Oy I am a small, independent consultant, based in Helsinki, Finland. I specialise in Project Management and Digital Channel Strategy development and execution activities including the activities described above. For more information please contact me, Graham Honeywill at

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Corporate Active Listening - part 1, building a social media strategy  
Corporate Active Listening - part 1, building a social media strategy  

Outlines some elements to consider when creating a strategy for social media