The 5 Critical Social Media Skills You Need To Disperse

Your customers, prospects, and the people looking for you online don’t care about your company structure. If they find you on Twitter, or leave a comment on your blog, they’re looking for a response from anyone who can help, regardless of what department that person represents or what someone’s official job title is.

Everybody in your company is in marketing, whether they want to be or not.

The people in your company today should have the characteristics and confidence to succeed in this environment. Let the ubiquity and speed of communication empower your staff to act and be helpful, no matter where they are on the organizational chart.

Social media and real-time business affects every employee in your organization in some way. Your official social media team—the people tasked with developing and maintaining your social outposts and real-time customer connectivity—are a critical part of your approach. But the rest of your employees are equally important to consider, as many of them will have to incorporate some measure of new responsibilities into their existing job functions.

Increasingly, social media needs to become a skill, not a job.

Here are five skills that should be present within as many people in your company as possible:

5 critical social media skills you need to disperse 1 The 5 Critical Social Media Skills You Need to Disperse

Brand Immersion and Representation

Once upon a time, the only people who really needed to “get” your brand were the ones who built its external facade: marketing, public relations, and corporate communications. Now you need to give everyone some guidelines but also the freedom to articulate and represent your company in their own authentic way.

Success Metrics

Although only a small group of employees will likely be responsible for specifically measuring the impact of your social media initiatives, the best programs are those that share those metrics with all employees. (Imagine if the only person who knew the score of a football game was the coach.) Sharing that information can help people feel connected, feel invested in the outcome, and understand how their work is making a difference.

Listening

Having a finger on the pulse of how social media and the activity within it affects your company, your department, and your industry is a universal responsibility. Soon, it won’t be enough to have just a centralized “listener” and you’ll need each division and department (and the people within them) to be listening for their own unique purposes.

Internal Wiring and Story Harvesting

Your company must be able to communicate stories seamlessly whenever opportunities arise. It can be difficult to have enough breadth if just one or two people are seeking stories, so let everyone contribute, from the reception desk to the manufacturing floor to the IT department.Build great internal communication, and give people the tools to share ideas, experiences, and expertise.

Engagement

Your social media representatives will do most of the online communication with your customers and prospects—but not all. The current is sometimes too swift and the river too broad for one or two social media specialists to manage all the online touch points. The rest of your team can help by knowing how and where and when to engage, too. Build education and training programs for those who want to get involved, and help them be part of the effort.

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Convince and Convert Blog  Social Media Strategy and Social Media Consulting » 5 Attributes of a Healthy Real Time Culture The 5 Critical Social Media Skills You Need to DisperseThis is the second in a 7-week blog post series covering themes included in The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social - my new book with Jay Baer, debuting February 1 (pre-orders and first chapter for free available now).

  • http://www.thoughtgadgets.com Ben Kunz

    Amber,

    I really admire this thinking, but disagree on one point: Not all organizations have the same strategy, so not all need to have *everyone* engaged in marketing or its corresponding social-media touchpoints. There is a classic idea that companies can choose from 3 ways to compete:

    1. Customer-focused e.g. Zappos, most ad agencies
    2. Operations-focused e.g. Walmart, USPS
    3. Product-focused e.g. Apple, Intel

    Customer-focused groups differentiate themselves by focusing on service, total solutions for customers, answering any and all problems. So for Zappos, social media empowerment among all employees makes sense. Ad agencies also use this model, which is why our industry has embraced social media concepts so readily.

    However, operations companies strive to cut costs — USPS, for instance, gets flack but is operationally brilliant, delivering pieces of paper across the country for less than 50 cents (try starting that business yourself). They compete on low cost and accuracy, so customer relations are less important. Walmart stocks its shelves with cheap wares made in China. These companies don’t need every employee to engage, because the costs of doing so would make them lose their competitive focus.

    And product innovators need to differentiate based on hot products. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs is notorious for pissing on complainers and sending harsh emails to customers, because, frankly, he doesn’t need to care — his products are brilliant and people line up at the door.

    There are other issues, too — product companies need to protect secrets, so can’t have everyone gabbing away (imagine if the designers of the next iPad were tossing around concepts inside Twitter). Operations companies can’t afford the costs of answering every customer complaint or whim like Zappos.

    There are different ways to compete. Social media is one powerful tool, but like a hammer, it’s not the right tool for every organization’s job.

    Peace out, and happy New Year.

  • http://www.thoughtgadgets.com Ben Kunz

    Amber,

    I really admire this thinking, but disagree on one point: Not all organizations have the same strategy, so not all need to have *everyone* engaged in marketing or its corresponding social-media touchpoints. There is a classic idea that companies can choose from 3 ways to compete:

    1. Customer-focused e.g. Zappos, most ad agencies
    2. Operations-focused e.g. Walmart, USPS
    3. Product-focused e.g. Apple, Intel

    Customer-focused groups differentiate themselves by focusing on service, total solutions for customers, answering any and all problems. So for Zappos, social media empowerment among all employees makes sense. Ad agencies also use this model, which is why our industry has embraced social media concepts so readily.

    However, operations companies strive to cut costs — USPS, for instance, gets flack but is operationally brilliant, delivering pieces of paper across the country for less than 50 cents (try starting that business yourself). They compete on low cost and accuracy, so customer relations are less important. Walmart stocks its shelves with cheap wares made in China. These companies don’t need every employee to engage, because the costs of doing so would make them lose their competitive focus.

    And product innovators need to differentiate based on hot products. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs is notorious for pissing on complainers and sending harsh emails to customers, because, frankly, he doesn’t need to care — his products are brilliant and people line up at the door.

    There are other issues, too — product companies need to protect secrets, so can’t have everyone gabbing away (imagine if the designers of the next iPad were tossing around concepts inside Twitter). Operations companies can’t afford the costs of answering every customer complaint or whim like Zappos.

    There are different ways to compete. Social media is one powerful tool, but like a hammer, it’s not the right tool for every organization’s job.

    Peace out, and happy New Year.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisMLindgren ChrisMLindgren

    I like the thinking around transforming traditional brand “governance” to a more positive inclusive “brand immersion, representation” with personal responsibility, for one. How can we develop and nurture new communication skills to be a better, stronger organization within our respective roles as deemed appropriate; be able to collaborate better, develop solutions and experiences that deliver value and measure the results. Not an easy undertaking and that’s why there are experts to help. Thanks Amber.

  • http://www.skypulsemedia.com/ Howie at Sky Pulse Media

    These are really great! I wish to comment on the Metrics. It is really easy to manipulate numbers in ways that sound great but mean nothing to the uneducated. I think there needs to be an upfront document showing what metrics actually mean so that the people who the Social Media folks have to be accountable too, can set real goals. This is truly why so many get branded Snake Oil Salesmen in the industry. Its all about Fans and Followers right? We had 28 Twitter Mentions yesterday. I think the goals need to be tied into the objectives of the organization. This includes using Social Media Communications Technology (what Social Media truly is, it enables communication and content, it isn’t content unto itself) internally. So metrics could be as simple as reducing internal inter-division help phone call minutes by 10% using our custom Internal Social Network.

    Happy Holidays!

  • http://twitter.com/BobbieGarner bagarner

    Very sound advice. My favorite reminder here is to share metrics with all employees. So many talk about transparency- but forget to do it in-house first.

  • http://twitter.com/randyclarktko randy clark

    Unfortunately I have always tried to do too much myself (nobody can do it as well, you know). Thank you for the story-harvesting reminder. I write the majority of our corporate posts, but I can’t find all the stories and shouldn’t be writing all the blogs. I feel a resolution coming…

  • http://blog.esimplestudios.com Gabriele Maidecchi

    I feel that the role of a social media “unit” (be it a single person managing it, or a whole team) should be also to educate people inside the company to become part of a bigger, company-wide unit. I agree with you, social media should be more something integrated within the company DNS itself rather than the work of a single, isolated group. The latter, in my opinion, doesn’t represent a successful model.

  • http://blog.esimplestudios.com Gabriele Maidecchi

    I feel that the role of a social media “unit” (be it a single person managing it, or a whole team) should be also to educate people inside the company to become part of a bigger, company-wide unit. I agree with you, social media should be more something integrated within the company DNS itself rather than the work of a single, isolated group. The latter, in my opinion, doesn’t represent a successful model.

  • http://twitter.com/joeslaughter Joe Slaughter

    Great info for any type of organization that deals with the public – and isn’t that all of us? Thanks for the article.

  • http://twitter.com/joeslaughter Joe Slaughter

    Thanx-great info for any organization or business that deals w the public – like all of us.

  • Deb

    Amber and Jay. Thanks for this great Christmas gift. And Ben for your reminder that all organizations are not created equal. That said, more and more the need employee and customer experience need to align [brand] and the role of ‘employee communications’ and social media in facilitating that alignment grows in importance no matter what business you’re in.

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