With the Facebook IPO just a little over two weeks ago, the message has become clear: the gap between business and social business is quickly closing. As businesses try to adapt and understand what this change means for their futures, there naturally is a lot of room out there for mistakes. We’re in largely uncharted waters. For example, according to an Altimeter Report published last summer, the average company now has 178 different social media accounts that they are grappling with. As organizations try to adapt and institute new social media plans, it’s important to understand which are succeeding.
With so much emphasis being placed on social media, it is no longer acceptable to be “giving social media a try”. Today, organizations must fully embrace it if they wish to be successful. However, that includes a large cultural change. In a recent Fast Company post, David Lavenda outlines eight warning signs to be wary of that signal your strategy isn’t working.
1) Lack of Interest from Key Users
“Analysts estimate that approximately a third of workers will download and share new technology, with or without corporate approval” – that’s an impressive amount. Ignoring or suppressing these early adopters creates an insurmountable resistance. Lavenda points out that “ignoring them [these early adopters] squanders your biggest advantage.” Instead, try to reach out to these individuals, they are your biggest ally when it comes to adapting corporate change.
2) Tool Overload
Yes despite what you may think, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Having too many tools can be frustrating and derail your social media plan. This is a large problem facing many organizations. Lavenda believes that, “We are in the midst of an adoption cycle that mirrors that of email in the early ‘90s.” It will take some time but feature consolidation will happen. Lavenda likens the current-day situation to the early 90’s by stating “imagine working with two email systems today, one to communicate with internal colleagues and one for external contacts.” Eventually we’ll see a consolidation into a collaboration platform, but until then it’s important not to get overwhelmed with all the tools out there.
3) Unclear Business Objectives
While a bit obvious, it’s important to highlight: technology-driven projects are a sure recipe for failure.
4) Ignoring Key Stakeholders
Part of the challenge of instituting new strategic plans is being able to accept change. Lavenda points out that “If your project manager is a bulldozer type who tells key stakeholders that he ‘knows better’ because he has already done five such projects, you’re headed for trouble, big time.”
5) The Inevitable IT-Business Fight
This will happen at some point, but it helps if IT realizes “they have to support the business to make initiatives, such as social business work. IT’s alternative is the (slow) decline of budgets and eventual demise.”
6) No Culture of Grassroots Technology Adoption
As the case with most new strategies, having an internal champion is an important element for success. Trying to force a top-down social initiative will be a bitter uphill battle. Lavenda writes “It’s much easier to leverage the excitement of existing users by getting them to be social at departmental or division levels, first.”
7) Failure to Communicate Value Add
Failing to effectively communicate the benefits that a social strategy brings to the workplace, will quickly lead you down the path to failure. Employees need to understand the value in being active in a social imitative and what that means to their everyday work responsibilities.
8) Rip & Replace = Refusal & Resistance
Put quite simply, a “rip and replace” strategy just won’t work. People are change-averse and instituting such a strategy typically ignores the daily habits of employees is, according to Lavenda, “the biggest failure factor in the list.” Instead, it’s important to incorporate a strategy that introduces this new strategy while acknowledging the old routines of employees.
So there you have it. I hope these red flags help you gain a better understanding of whether your social media plans are working. And if you see these warning sings you’ll now know that you social strategy isn’t working and it’s time to rethink what you are doing.