Time To Radically Redesign Social Media

Time To Radically Redesign Social Media
By Yves Salama

“Reengineering the Corporation” by Hammer and Champy was published in 1993.  The subtitle was more energetic — A Manifesto for Business Revolution.  It called for the “radical redesign and reorganization” of processes within the company to do things better, faster, cheaper.

Now that computers are around we can change how work is done.  We can work in parallel or reduce the number of people and number of handoffs. Work itself has changed.

Hammer and Champy listed key rules to improve performance:

  • -Capture data at the source.
  • -Organize for results, not tasks.
  • -Make IT integral to the real work.
  • -Organize IT over silos and regions.
  • -Embed control in the workflow.

redesign_logo_squareIt was a breakthrough. We continue to improve and re-engineer our processes with radical improvements and cost reduction.  Our cars, computers and TV’s are more complex, more attractive, more robust, and far cheaper than before.

But with social media, we are designing new processes with gaps. Here are a few examples:

  • -An agency manages Facebook for a major retail chain. They meet with the client once a month to discuss strategy and review their plans. Gaps: Not integrated with marketing. No local flavor (umbrellas in Miami, snow shovels in Chicago). Not sensitive to day-to-day.
  • -Social media manager organizes ambassadors from different departments and locations to gather content ideas and learn about events. They meet every Monday morning and review and approve each post during the week. Gaps: Low participation rate (some ambassadors are less active than others).  Not responsive.  Slow to approve.
  • -Social media strategist is hired to rationalize the different contributors across the organization.  She implements a consistent look and feel, develops a playbook to promote a consistent voice and adopts several analytical tools.  Gaps: Few use the playbook. Participation drops (fail to check with the playbook).
  • -Social media manager develops a shadow organization of designated specialists in every sector. Gaps: Departments find the role a distraction because it’s intrusive and interruptive.

A radical redesign would complement traditional communications with social media. It allows the marketing front-lines (marketing, advertising, PR, sales, product management), and offices and locations to contribute directly to social media and circumvent many of these gaps.

The first challenge is to clearly spell out the goals of social media without sinking into the quicksand of newspeak: followers, likes, shares, comments, retweets, CTR, ROI, KPI, conversions, traffic, metrics, etc.  And let’s be mindful of other competing trends: Should we look at ROI or on RoR (return on relationship), or human2human.

Early successes provided a corporate footing for social media. Technology also evolved and generated more data to slice and dice. The infrastructure quickly evolved along with job titles:

Social Media Coordinator, social media strategist, monitor, advocate, analytics, brand champion, social interactions, client engagement, search optimizer, community manager, content strategist, content editor, producer, etc.

Was social media pursuing a different audience in a different way? Briefly, yes, there was a different audience (young, tech savvy) who chose to congregate in social media. This is no longer true.  The market is morphing and changing.  Customers become aware of a brand on social media, look at the website, find a store to touch and feel the product, then buy on Amazon.

Companies already know how to market to prospects and customers. There are departments organized to attract, sell, and manage customers. They are the marketing front-lines: marketing, advertising, PR, sales, product management, customer support, offices, and locations, etc.

When social media engaged prospects already under the radar of the marketing front-lines, it became necessary to coordinate the two camps.  Departments and people were tripping over each other. Meetings were long and drawn out as each camp tried to protect their turf and teach how they could do it better, cheaper, faster. That’s where the opportunity to redesign social media comes up.

If social media complements marketing, re-engineering the social media process is not complicated.

  • -Develop a social media strategy to align the overall social media effort with marketing (i.e.: prevent lone wolves, make sure messaging is consistent, allow departments to establish their voice, identify different market segments, select which channels to use, develop corporate policies and procedures, …)
  • -Integrate social media into the marketing front lines by providing / allowing each department to use it. Physically include a social media expert in each group, train groups and departments.

Bringing different departments on board means they will speak to their segment in the own voice with appropriate content. That’s one big step in the right direction.

Integrating social media back with marketing improves both.  The social media specialists can improve how they support the sales funnel and the marketing specialist will learn how to communicate and engage with new tools. The goal is to work hand-in-hand.

Yves Salama is CEO of Teem’d, a collaboration tool that allows everybody in the organization to contribute to the social media conversation. Local groups can work together to tailor the message for their local audiences. The platform crowd-sources oversight and the sharing of prepared content. Link to teemd.com and @Teemd_social.