As part of last week’s Buzz2010 in downtown Washington, D.C., SmartBrief and SocialFish hosted a panel of experts who have been working through the risks of social media at their organizations for years.
- Mark Story (pictured at center) is the director of new media at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the regulator in charge of what financial companies can say and how they say it — with billions of dollars in the balance.
- Wendy Harman (left), recently featured in Charlene Li’s new book, “Open Leadership,” is the social-media manager at the American Red Cross. As such, she empowers 700 local chapters to use social media to their advantage and monitors more than 1,000 social-media mentions from the public each day.
- Alexandra Levit (right) is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated career columnist with a wealth of expertise at the intersection of social media and workplace productivity.
A major theme that emerged during the event was what social-media evangelists can do to usher their organizations through the transformation period. To get everyone at your organization on board, our panelists suggested:
- Have a vision. Instead of getting mired in platforms, tactics and details, Story suggests communicating what your big-picture goal is by using the language of the higher-ups in your organization. Think of this as a reverse engineering of your social-media strategy, he says.
- Make sure everyone internally knows about it. Harman says the single thing that’s made the most difference in securing organizational buy-in and holding management’s attention at the Red Cross is a simple daily social-media update e-mail that includes 10 to 20 quotes of what people are saying about them — both positive and negative. Harman started this practice for her own discipline — to make sure she was listening to and reading everything folks were saying each day — and now the e-mail is read daily by 400 members of management, staff and volunteers each day.
This kind of “ambient awareness” is a way for everyone across the Red Cross to know what’s going on. (I don’t know about you, but we’re starting this practice at SmartBrief today!)
- Renovate your top-down communications. Instead of laying down the law, offer positive guidance and encourage your employees to be out there on the social Web, saying the kids of things you hope they will say. Harman suggested messaging along the lines of, “We’d love it if you did these four things on a daily basis.”
- Deal with naysayers up front. Levit suggested sitting down with skeptics for proactive conversations with them, emphasizing how social media can make their lives easier and asking what you can do to help get their jobs done. Sometimes it’s necessary to hold people’s hands a bit through the transformation period.
- Host training sessions for your team. Our panelists delivered invaluable advice for educating your colleagues about social media. That will be the topic of my next Buzz2010 wrap-up post, so stay tuned.
One more breakfast is left in the Buzz2010 breakfast series. Join us on Aug. 18 when Olivier Blanchard tackles social-media measurement and return of investment. Register today!