Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Issue of Scale: Without Human Cloning, Social Managers Need Other Methods

This blog post is most suited for larger organizations where scaling can quickly become an issue. If you’re sitting in your corporate social media group, your center of excellence or whatever you call it, I hear you. You are the only person or have a small team of people guiding and advising the rest of the company. How can you scale your services to meet your social media practitioners’ needs? While this list is not exhaustive, here are a few tips to help ease your concerns:

1) Know Who You Are And Who You Are Not
How far will you go? Where do you need to draw the line? Let’s face it, when you’re in an enablement role, you can’t be executing on everyone’s program. It’s just not possible. Have a clear charter AND communicate your roles and responsibilities, what you will and won’t do to your practitioners. Set clear expectations and be prepared to offer alternative solutions if you are not (avail)able to help. For example, identify and nurture a vendor list and point people to vendors that can help. The key here is not only to have a vendor list but also to share this vendor list and make it easily accessible to all social media practitioners inside the company. Teaching your practitioners about your vendors' capabilities in various online and offline settings can be very powerful.  

2) Extend Your Reach: Tap Into Your Internal Stars
In other words, clone yourself. Well, not exactly. But who says that it always has to be you that has to train or educate others in the company? If you’re a big corporation, chances are different departments are at different stages on their social media journey. Use your internal stars to your advantage. Identify who these people are, invite them to an online forum to share their wisdom with others in the company. Not only will this help you scale but it will also recognize people inside your company that do social media well. Putting them in the limelight and positioning them as experts in a certain area is a way of rewarding a job well done. Or, just connect individuals that have gone through a certain experience with people that are going through it right now.

3) Extend Your Reach: Share Your Knowledge Online
Got a Flip? Over time, you will discover repeat questions and might say “If I only had a tape recorder!”. Why not put together templates, frameworks and how to's for your teams to use and/or record short 2-minute video clips on various social media topics and questions you get on a regular basis? Publish them on your internal web site or community platform and drive people to these resources. In order to help ensure that you’re creating videos, templates and frameworks that are most valuable to your practitioners, think about the:
A) Recurring questions you get
B) Opportunities for improvement and gaps in your company’s social media practice
C) Potential challenges or opportunities you see emerging in social media (this is more of a proactive rather than a reactive approach)

You may come up with four pages of things you could do. Prioritize your ideas based on the impact and effort/resources it takes to make them happen. Ask for feedback if needed.

To learn some more tricks and tips, check out this SlideShare presentation:


  1. Petra, these are all really good points. Thank you for sharing them. Personally, I've learned a lot from watching the progress of one large company -- that's Dell, in Austin, Texas.

    Here's why I believe that they have demonstrated meaningful leadership -- that other forward-looking companies should follow.

    - They're one of the first to recognize that real thought leadership can come from any employee -- not merely their senior executives.

    - They're actively participating in commentary on other (non-Dell) blogs and forums -- even when the comments are negative to their company they're not afraid to share their point of view.

    - They realized early in the development of their social media activities that they would be unable to scale their online engagement unless they mainstreamed these skills within their broader employee base.

    - They have not only raised awareness in the marketplace for their products and services, they’ve evolved the image of their total talent pool. Meaning, now they have lots of human faces and personalities associated with their brand –- way beyoond the select few executive photos and bios that you’ll find on a typical large company’s “About Us” section of their corporate web site.

  2. Excellent points David! Thank you for adding to the list.