The challenges presented by social media are not that the technology is so hard to master, it’s that so few have mastered the art of communication. Also true is the fact that social media communities are no longer swayed by cheap discounts or an invitation to try a new product. Instead, they are looking for a connection. This is why social media marketing is not a quick process – it takes time to nurture relationships into conversations, creating solid, trusted connections that will extend your organisation’s reach.
I feel nothing but admiration for any manager that sets out to build a sustainable Social Media Program within a traditional ROI driven organisation. Especially when resources are normally limited and management seek to apportion a demonstrable return – be it in terms of sales or revenue associated with specific social media activities. When building a social media strategy, there will be some tough conversations to be had and decisions made, as investment is funneled away from other important business activities in support of your social media program. This is where it is critical to set the right tone within an organisation at the offset, ensuring that expectations are set with management and support is in place to ensure the program can develop without the distractions of corporate politics. In Christopher Barger’s book ‘The Social Media Strategist’, he outlines two important persona’s that are vital to the long-term success of a social media program:
The Executive Champion – is normally someone within an organisation that operates at the executive level. Someone whose opinion carries an air of authority and has the ability to influence the decisions being made at the highest level. Normally the head of communications or PR, this person wouldn’t be directly involved in developing strategy or executing social media campaigns. But acts as the main program sponsor, fully endorsing its activities, obtaining funding and providing the Social Media Evangelist with space to execute a successful program.
Their main role can be described as follows:
- To promote the Social Media vision within the highest management levels of the organisation. Obtaining continued executive buy-in, with the associated financial commitment to see the program through to fruition.
- To communicate the Social Media vision to the rest of the organisation. This ensures that across the organisation, business owners understand the strategy and align to the plan developed by the Social Media Evangelist. In the event of a dispute arising around the ownership of the Social Media strategy or its direction, in the interest of consistency, the Executive Champion would possess the mandate and authority to enforce alignment to the current strategy.
The Social Media Evangelist – is the point person who leads the strategic and day-to-day execution of the social media strategy. Leveraging the resources provided by the Executive Champion, they are tasked with building the organisation’s presence within social networks, winning converts and influencing conversations with a delicate balance between social and digital, internal and external, strategy and tactics, relationships and business goals.
Before diving into social media, it is imperative that organisations possess a solid foundation, with the Executive Champion and Social Media Evangelist roles being central to this. Without their unquestionable partnership and leadership, a social media program is destined to reach only a fraction of its true potential.
Who do you count as the Executive Champion in your organisation?