We all do it. A new social network comes out and we sign up, share some content, find our voice, and maybe fall off, but probably never delete the account. No one’s the wiser.
Except if you have customers.
While most companies don’t keep an inventory of all customer-facing profiles, social media can be a huge liability when it comes to rogue, inactive, or off-brand accounts. Customers don’t know where to look for customer service inquiries and if they do try to connect, their message will fall on deaf ears—or worse get picked up by phishing attacks or your competitors.
In 2012, an Altimeter Group report said that the average enterprise has some 178 social media accounts. And only 49% of them have a centralized inventory of their social landscape. With so many accounts and no strategy in place, these organizations are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of attacks, PR and security disasters, missed opportunities, and angry customers.
After speaking with a few of our customers, we discovered that this issue lives on—and it’s arguably getting worse.
Barcelona City Council had 600 social media accounts with nearly a hundred teams and departments sharing content and opening accounts at random. There was no cohesive strategy, no ownership, and no accountability. Local Barcelona citizens lost out because they didn’t know how to connect with their City.
Wiley, on the other hand, had 700 social media accounts. Many of these accounts were not strategic and weren’t driving business results or customer satisfaction.
Whether you run a small business, global enterprise, or an entire city, cleaning up your social presence is essential for creating secure, collaborative, and streamlined communication between you and your customers. Think of it like a digital spring clean.
Follow these 5 steps to declutter your social media presence:
Ask yourself these questions to get a better sense of the current social landscape:
- What channels are we present on? Are these the right channels for our audience?
- How are teams using social and who’s on it?
- Do we know what our competitors are doing?
- How are we measuring our social presence? How do they tie back to our business goals?
- Are we training and educating our teams to succeed?
Then dive deeper. Find employee advocates who have been engaging on your business’ behalf. See what resonates with their audience and get their input on how to establish best practices and guidelines for the rest of the organization. By now you should have a better understanding of how your business is currently being represented online.
Visualize your ideal social media presence—this could be based on what competitors or other businesses in the industry are doing on social. Set short-term and long-term goals for how you’d like to get there. For example, in one year, you will have solidified 10 official profiles and established best practices for engaging, collaborating, and advocating.
During the audit phase, the Barcelona City Council uncovered employees who were already listening and engaging and thinking strategically on social. Those social media experts and executives helped form a Social Media Council, or Center of Excellence.
This Social Media Council is a core group of employees who brainstorm best practices, brand guidelines, and strategies for content marketing, customer service, and engagement. They work closely with governance teams to ensure secure communications and train teams and departments accordingly.
Both Wiley and the Barcelona City Council executives recognized the risk of having so many public-facing channels without strategies or results.
The Social Media Council downsized the Council’s social media presence by nearly half. While 350 public-facing accounts may still seem like a lot, the sheer complexity of the organization required more accounts to avoid customer service confusion. Having a Center of Excellence in place is essential for coordinating workflows and unifying brand voices.
While Wiley also needs to contain corporate complexity, they have three core business sectors, rather than hundreds like the City. Wiley’s three core business sectors are global research, professional development, and education. Downsizing and strategizing was a huge undertaking. They brought on Michelle Lockett in June 2013 as Director of Social Marketing to drive this initiative.
Lockett halved the number official channels and empowered colleagues with education to start thinking strategically and drive business results on social.
4. Train and Educate
To arm Wiley colleagues with the skill sets to succeed, Lockett partnered with Hootsuite to develop and deploy a scalable, custom education program: the Wiley Hootsuite Social Marketing Certificate. Hootsuite’s education team worked with Lockett to create a blended-curriculum approach that identified three distinct curriculum levels, addressing three core areas of focus for Wiley: fundamentals of social, strategic planning, and custom content based on Wiley’s key business objectives.
Lockett officially rolled this program out in June 2014 to more than 250 marketing colleagues. Within months, the education program expanded beyond marketing to many departments including customer service and editorial. To further train teams and departments across the three businesses, Lockett created a Social Marketing Council, with herself and the program at its core.
“Successful digital transformations require that the right skills are developed, mindsets reframed, and expertise leveraged,” says Lockett.
The Barcelona City Council also used its Center of Excellence as the epicenter for social media training. Any community managers, executives, or employees that managed a social profile had to complete training beforehand. And as they became more campaign-ready, employees were then encouraged to collaborate with the Social Media Council in order to strategize the best campaign possible.
Over the span of about a year, the City’s Social Media Council worked with many of the organization’s 8000 employees to educate them on how to create strategic social profiles and engage properly.
Promoting a new system of procedures or strategy internally often starts with word of mouth. As more employees became trained and empowered with best practices, others wanted to learn too. Over time, social media strategies were formalized and promoted across both organizations.
The same goes for external promotion. As Barcelona citizens and Wiley customers began to see increased engagement and sharing on official channels, they increasingly knew where to look for information, engagement, and customer service.
Having an organization-wide social presence without strategy or business results can be a liability. Today, both organizations have empowered teams and departments with the strategic skills and knowledge to collaborate effectively and measure benefits with Hootsuite.