Friday, September 10, 2010

Toddler Steps

Numerous articles are surfacing indicating that a majority of companies jumped into the social media frenzy without a cohesive game plan or measurement in place. Being a classically trained marketer, I am a strong advocate of strategic planning, but when it comes to social media,
I recommend toddler steps.

Read On:
Back in June, Digital Brand Expressions released findings of a study they conducted among 100 companies – 49% were less than 100 employees, 32% had 50 to 999 employees and the remainder, 19% had more than 1,000 employees. Key Learning: 78% of the respondents indicated that they were utilizing social media; only 41% had a strategic plan in place. If my math is correct, 68% of the business universe does not have a social media plan. What resulted were a plethora of articles providing tips of “how to” formulate the perfect plan. Blogger Parissa Behnia said it best in her piece titled Cosmopolitan and Social Media; we are always reading how to articles to be more successful.

Over the remainder of the summer, all the social media gurus began addressing the need to listen and find your community, engage with your community, find the right content to deliver to your community, find the right platforms, etc. What I did not read were two basic building blocks for the foundation of a solid social media plan that would require toddler steps:

· Culture – Famous adage;
"Culture Trumps Strategy." Your entire company has to embrace the need and commitment for social media. Otherwise, you can develop the most brilliant strategy, but if your corporate culture is composed of tree huggers that insist on doing it the same old way, culture will trump strategy every time.

· Resources – How are you going to manage the process? Best practices address that it should be internal, an inner voice, thus the responsibility of a PR department. Not every company can afford these resources, thus need to implement a team approach. Responsibilities and time commitment need to be clearly defined.

Referencing ancient Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Remember when it comes to social media, the journey begins with toddler steps.


  1. How many conversations have we had about THIS subject, Jimmy? I couldnt agree more. That SHOULD present an opportunity for dweebs like us to offer direction to those wandering in the desert... but alas, most dont realize they are lost. Over time that will surely change...

  2. Jimmy,

    Thanks for the very generous "shout out" and another thoughtful post! I always learn something!


    Parissa Behnia

  3. AWESOME! What you have reminded us is the execution needs to be planned for in advance. Although still heavily debatable whether it's PR, Marketing, or even Product Mgrs with ownership. Personally, I think PR only makes it a bit too crafted. Who responds and how they respond does require a team perspective. Not one person can have all the answers.

  4. Jimmy,

    One more related requirement...commitment to stay the course.

    I have come across several companies in the past few months that had established a culture, assigned the resources and become industry leaders vis social media.

    Then change, either budget cuts, merger/acquisition, management change, whatever. The culture changes, the emphasis is lost and the leadership position goes quiet...and sales decline follows.

    If companies are going to engage social media they need to stick to it. Just as they commit to building and maintaining a brand, they need to commit to maintaining social media.

  5. Thank you all for your great comments. Re: Commitment - I am beginning to witness a drop off on some platforms - LinkedIn being one. Was it the summertime? People that were real active are were unemployed, now employed, thus no longer committed? Is anyone else beginning to notice a drop off?

  6. Jimmy, I'm not sure that people who are employed are less committed, maybe just more browsers/readers than participators. Everyone who is working is so busy handling too much, it seems.