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Social Media – And Herding Cats

Social Media – And Herding Cats

I was driving by some soccer fields over the weekend, and the little ones were out there playing.  Now if you’ve ever seen this spectacle, it usually involves a cloud of dust and a bunch of kicking legs going back and forth between the goals.  One of the first teams I coached had this one kid who would sit down and pick the flowers/weeds that were growing on the field USUALLY while the ball was on the other side of the field.  And keeping 16-20 of them engaged during practice…don’t get me started! I was teaching a kids judo class, and I observed the same behavior.  I would turn my back on the larger group to focus on a couple of students, and I would turn around to see some of them crawling in random directions. Others would be standing toe-to-toe and moving their heads side-to-side like parrots. It all reminded me of this old EDS commercial herding cats… Do you ever get the feeling that developing your company’s social media strategy is akin to herding cats?  Consider the following, and let’s discuss where you are in the maturity process.

1. Level 1 – We gotta be using social media

This is when we should get in the habit of always asking “Why” when people make blanket statements like this…

  • Is this statement coming from Panic/Fear because you think all your competitors are doing it and are ahead of you?
  • Does it come from Enthusiasm as you see the reduction in marketing budget while possibly increasing revenue and extending your influence in a medium where the biggest cost component is time?
  • Does it come from Opportunism as you move beyond fear and dollars and cents, and realize the possible huge gains in market share and sentiment by meeting the customers where they are?  Customers want to be heard, and they’d love it if you responded (in near real-time) in their venue of choice.  And keep in mind, everybody is watching!  Turn around a customer relationship, or reward a shout out, and reap the rewards of developing new fans amongst the spectators. Dave Evans also points out in Social Media Marketing – An Hour a Day: Your customers are already talking about you.  The fact that you aren’t participating is your implicit endorsement of whatever it is they are saying.

2. Level 2 – Who Owns Social Media for your Company

Let the turf wars commence!  Marketing is a logical choice.  So is Customer Service. And IT may have infrastructure and network security considerations.  Hmm, looks like this should be a collaborative effort with representation from each of these organizations.

3. Level 3 – Getting Started

Do you start with an Official Facebook Fan Page? How about an official Twitter ID or LinkedIn group?  You want to put thought into these before getting started because you do not want to build a fan base and then go through some “rebranding” of your page name or Twitter ID and LinkedIn group and lose fans/followers.

4. Level 4 – Stepping up your Game

What about getting corporate officers and thought leaders to blog and respond to questions on forums and platforms like LinkedIn? Should blogs reside on the corporate website or be separate from the corporate website to generate trusted external links back to the corporate site? Separately hosted blogs also allow a certain autonomy to follow the social media mentality of building trust and establishing credibility versus simply pushing company products and services.

5. Level 5 – Monitoring and Response

We now have landing pages and plenty of places to push content.  However, what if our consumers are talking about us on other Facebook walls, YouTube comments and blogs/review sites like CNet, eOpinions, TripAdvisor, Fashionista and Amazon? Now would be a good time to select a monitoring tool that could suit the broadest audience (marketing, customer service, IT) within your organization. I use HootSuite for monitoring my own Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter; however, you need a tool that can scale and monitor blogs and review sites and aggregate results across all platforms.  This is the place where I shamelessly promote Mantis Pulse Analytics, but I’ll leave it to you to do your research.  Regardless of the monitoring tool selected, you also need to establish a policy or service level agreement for an acceptable response time to consumers. You want to catch the negative sentiment before it goes viral and gets retweeted/shared/liked across the Internet.  You also want to reward those positive shout-outs whenever you get them…regardless of their Klout score!

How do you define these maturity levels within your own company? Where do you feel you are on the spectrum?

Photo By Boksi (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and now grandsons! I am blessed in that I also love my job as a VP of Enterprise Solutions for ProKarma. I appreciate the convergence of big data and data visualization in our Pulse Analytics social listening and analytics platform as well as our core software / mobile app development, business intelligence, and test automation services. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin. You can find Brian on .

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