Every company, corporation, and organization is struggling to get its corporate social media right.
Boards are putting it on their agendas, as a reputational risk and opportunity. CEOs are puzzling over how to lead and evaluate their companies’ efforts, as well as debating what their own social media profile should be. Executive Committees are reviewing metrics and messaging, and still wondering which are meaningful. Human Resource Directors are competing for Chief Digital Officers from a small pool, without always knowing who will be good for their organizations – or what “good” really looks like. And Chief Marketing Officers are trying to be cutting edge and to add value, while juggling competing demands from all stakeholders – consumers, followers, shareholders, management, and an ever-fickle and sometimes malicious public.
And everyone is trying to figure out what the right “content” is, anyway.
10 More Don’ts
Over two years ago, we first published in this column a series of “10 Don’ts of Corporate Social Media,” addressing the pitfalls organizations must avoid as they build their social media presence. It continues to draw significant readership.
But the world has changed seismically in the last two years. Corporate use of social media has gotten both far more sophisticated, and far more confused.
While we now see many highly successful (and entertaining) examples of how to promote products over social media (such as Dermablend’s Tattoo Boy video; an advertisement for the recent film, “Carrie”; and GoPro’s campaign for its premier portable camera), the concept of how to brand organizations over social media – be they companies, non-profits or colleges and universities – is still being perfected.
Therefore, we felt it was time for a redux: “10 MORE Don’ts of Corporate Social Media.” In this series, we will tackle a whole new set of issues – from co-branding to content, from anonymity to advertising, and from websites to worlds full of many Davids taking aim at the Goliaths.
These days organizations have far more questions than answers: Is any corporate secret or strategy private anymore? How does branding over social media really work? Does it work?
Should CEOs tweet? What about corporate boards? What should an organization stand for on social media? What should its “voice” be? Who will own that voice, and will employees be empowered to post on their own, or will they need to be vetted? How should those efforts coordinate with more traditional corporate communications and marketing efforts? How should an organization respond to detractors, as well as to friends? Who should control the function, and to whom should it report – marketing, corpcom, the chief counsel, or the CEO’s office itself?
What will get you liked, and what will get you hated, and why? Where’s the formula? Where’s the best practice?
The Trillion Dollar Question:
Behind all of these questions lies the trillion dollar question: How do organizations think about communicating to the public, when the public now communicates back?
No longer are messages one-way, nor are they controllable. Every time an employee sends out a message, like it or not, that message also represents his or her organization.
And the haters are everywhere, and often they are winning. There is no telling what will be targeted next – even things that folks inside an organization find benign. (Just look at how J.P.Morgan’s #AskJPM Twitter Chat was hijacked last week – and cleverly so.) How should haters be listened to, responded to, blunted, deferred to? After all, it is so much easier to find fault than it is to find solutions…
Reputation Risk vs. Reward
So, risk, too, lies everywhere. No wonder a new national study by Deloitte has found that “reputation” is now seen as the number one strategic risk by executives at large companies, just as social media is seen as the biggest threat and “technology disrupter” to their business models.
In the world of social media, reputation is both far more enduring, and far more evanescent, than ever before – necessitating a whole new way of thinking about, and of supporting, corporate reputation and corporate reputational risk.
What NOT To Do
So, what is the enlightened organization to do…or more appropriately, NOT to do, to make the very best use of social media? These are all questions we will seek to answer, starting tomorrow.
This time around, we are focusing on corporate reputational risk, as well as reward. And yet again, we are combining strategic advice with extremely tactical tips on how organizations can successfully use social media.
This round, as in the last, my co-author is Ian Anderson. In 2011, Ian was a Junior at Swarthmore College, my alma mater, on whose Board I sit. He had started working at Temin and Company as a sophomore, as part of Swarthmore’s “Extern Program” that allows students to “shadow” an alum for one week during Winter break. And he was a natural, not just a native. Needless to say, it was such a great fit that he has now graduated and is working at Temin full-time as a Social Media Strategist.
What we found was that Ian’s “native” social media acumen and intelligence, and my experience as a marketing, media, reputation, and crisis strategist, make a perfect combination. We can pair our experience and insight as we write, and as we work for clients, in order to deliver the best of both worlds.
That certainly is our intention in our next series of “10 More Don’ts” debuting tomorrow, Wednesday, November 20th, with “Don’t Ignore Hidden Co-Branding: Every Employee’s Personal Brand Is Also A Corporate Brand.”
We’ll post one “Don’t” each weekday – except for Thanksgiving Day – through Wednesday, December 4th. On Thursday, December 5th, we’ll wrap up the entire series, with our one DO. We even have created an infographic on the series, which we will post on December 5th, as well.
So, stay tuned. And please do comment – we look forward to the conversation!