My firm, PulsePoint Group, recently had the distinct pleasure of conducting a three-day social media conference for members of the Arthur W. Page Society’s Future Leaders program. The program is a two-year professional development exercise in which approximately 20 “next generation chief communications officers” study various dimensions of our business.
Over the three-day session exploring the uses of social media by corporations, a number of key learnings emerged. (Click here for a full copy of the Learnings From the Page Society’s Future Leaders Program on Social Media report.) Among them:
Focus. Think small. The mistake some companies have made with social media is general experimentation, and then taking on too much, too soon. Best practices suggest you find a niche in your company where you think social media can have a positive, measurable impact, and start there. Opportunities might include public policy efforts, a business-to-business marketing campaign or a strategic philanthropy initiative.
Engage others early. In many companies, lawyers make arguments as to why the liability risks of social media campaigns are not worth the rewards. This is particularly acute in regulated industries such as financial services and health care. In other companies, IT identifies technology or infrastructure obstacles. And yet in others, the CFO or the head of HR express their own concerns. Engaging them early will increase the odds that you will be able to find a pathway forward.
Learn the tools. You may be the chief communications officer or someone who typically delegates responsibility for a wide range of activities. Don’t underestimate the value of you personally learning the tools available to you. Learning the tools helps you learn the potential. Roll up your sleeves.
Find a mentor. Sorry to generalize, but the older you are, the less likely the language of social media is your first language. Look inside your company and find a social media mentor. I don’t care if the person is your age or half your age; you’d be surprised what a 27-year-old can teach a 54-year-old.
Build relationships. Because of the need to early engage other functions (e.g., general counsel, marketing, HR, etc.), it is more certain than ever that cross-functional personal relationships inside corporations will very much be linked to professional success. Take time to build your network of relationships inside your company, well beyond your traditional borders.
Be relevant. Many companies want to understand the online conversations taking place that have to do with their company or industry, and then jump in. Be sure you do a lot of listening first and know how you want to engage. Once you do, things you’ve probably already heard are very true: be honest, transparent, not commercial, relevant, and speak in an appropriate voice for the forum.
Click here for a free copy of the full Learnings From the Page Society’s Future Leaders Program on Social Media report.
Bob Feldman is co-founder and principal of PulsePoint Group, a communications management consulting firm. Bob regularly contributes to his company’s blog, Points of View. Connect with Bob via e-mail or on Twitter.
About the Arthur W. Page Society
The Arthur W. Page Society is a select membership organization composed primarily of the chief communications officers (CCOs) of the world’s top multinational corporations, and the CEOs of the world’s largest public relations agencies. The organization’s members also include academics from the leading business and communications schools. The Page Society is dedicated to strengthening the management policy role of chief communications officers. For more information please visit http://www.awpagesociety.com/.
Social Media Insight at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value.
We’ve gathered more than 175 leading experts to share their knowledge on everything from social media to green marketing. Experience four jam-packed days of 80+ Professional Development sessions, including Master Classes and Silver Anvil case studies, on topics you need to know about now. Our workshops will boost your knowledge, expand your capabilities and give you practical guidance that you can start putting to use immediately — with measurable results. To learn more about the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit www.prsa.org/ic2009 for more information, or download our Conference brochure (PDF).