A company looking to create and follow through on a social media strategy faces several challenges. Marketing Sherpa’s Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Survey shows that significant challenges for implementing social media include:
- Lack of knowledgeable staff
- Inability to to trrack ROI or measure impact on goals
- Lack of budget, resources and time
- Management resistance
- Technical complexity
None of these obstacles are exclusive to social media. In fact, they’re all similar to issues faced when launching a Knowledge Management (KM) initiative.
KM is made up of practices and tools within an organization to internally document and share insights, experience and technical expertise. The benefits of KM include greater collaboration, reduced redundant work, and better training and retention of employees.
At its core, the goal of Social media, whether it’s corporate blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc, is fundamentally the same as knowledge management: Sharing information. The benefits of sharing information online can be:
- Greater exposure for your company
- Increased traffic to your website
- More conversions of leads
- Recognition as a leader/expert in your industry or market
- Increased business and revenue
- Higher search results rankings
- Recruiting of Employees
When you share expertise online, you not only are you grow your business, but you provide a valuable service to your customers. Your social media efforts should save them time, reduce their workload and provide insights into their industry that your company’s employees have learned through their own experiences.
Some major issues must be addressed when implementing knowledge management or social media:
- Executive level buy-in.
- Incentive for the “knowledge workers” to become involved.
- Employee Time allotted for KM or SM efforts.
Your entire organization, from top to bottom, must be aligned to achieve success. A common pitfall is a company whose CEO believes strongly in using social media, but doesn’t ensure that management give employees time to take part or offer incentives to be involved.
On the other end of the spectrum, and I think more commonly, many companies have employees that are personally active in social media only to run-up against managers that reluctant to join in. They think that sharing information online will help their competitors or they just don’t see the ROI and think it’s a total waste of time.
Your company needs a “Project Champion” empowered to lead these efforts and act as the editor or curator. Work with employees to create an incentive program for their involvement. Start small with a pilot project to address the issues that may come up. This is also a way to keep initial costs low. Learn as you go and keep growing and expanding your efforts.
Your company likely has a ton of information and content just waiting to be shared online. Some great sources that can become online content are your project portals, knowledge base or help desk archives, wikis, market research and product documentation. Obviously you’ll need to carefully review what you decide to publish for legal and competitive reasons.