The 3 P’s of Social Media – People, Process and People

TB03-blog-bannerYeah that’s right – especially to those of you working at one of hundreds of social media marketing tools and platforms – I forgot technology! Firstly, it isn’t a ‘p’ so then I would have had to change the title of my blog post. Secondly, I left it out on purpose. Without the people or the process the technology is irrelevant…

At the end of the day it is as simple as this – you can’t automate human interaction. When you do, it is just like that ‘thanks for the follow’ DM you get from those incessant Twitterers who follow 400,000 people in order to have 400,001 people follow them. Much in the same way you receive an automated un-personalised email – you on the whole switch off, disregard and forget. No one likes to be treated like a number, and the average human understands that when you are interacting with a brand via social media you are in fact my dear, speaking to another human.

Lots of it. Sounds rigid right, boring, where’s the creativity? I am not talking about lock down here – call it a framework if that makes it sound more free and in the spirit of social (don’t be so tree huggy!). For some reason though when it comes to social media every throws out the basics, the rules and principles you would normally adhere to when operating in any department. The main process defect that springs to mind here is around measurement – proper measurement. All too often I speak to brands & organisations who don’t really truly know what they are measuring. I mean they know how many Facebook Likes they have, or Retweets on the last piece of content on Twitter – but they don’t know what value that adds to the business. Now this is not about defining ‘the value of a like’ as a standardised metric it is about setting clear objectives from the off and defining the role social media should play. For instance, in the marketing department what part of the customer journey should social media focus on, or does it play role right across the journey stages? If so, then mapping metrics accordingly in line with the journey will help quantify the impact at every stage.

Process is not just about measurement. Social media and the nature of real-time communications challenges business models in a number of ways. As a brand investing in content one of those most significant impacts is the process that sits behind originating, creating, approving, distributing and optimising content. Done properly your brand moves to a publishing model, an engine which creates pertinent content serving business goals. Without, you are creating content for the sake of it, without purpose or direction – wasting countless hours and hard earned budget in the (lack of) process.

And on the flip side of what you can plan for (content). What about what you cannot? The nature of social media means your business needs to respond quickly – whether it be a matter for customer service, HR, marketing, sales or corporate. How are your channels monitored? Who will respond? How will you respond? Who will approve the response? What happens in this scenario? What is the tone of voice? You get the point, you need to process to define the above – all crafted and actioned by…

The final piece of the jigsaw. As illustrated above there are lots of questions that need to be answered – initially and on an ongoing, daily, hourly, by the minute basis. And these questions along with the answers to them are crafted by a range of people, in different departments with different agendas, in different ways utilising different skill sets.

Gone are the days that social media is handled by the graduated in the corner of the room. Multi disciplined cross departmental teams (journalistic, analytical, creative, design led, pragmatic & organised, eccentric & wholly rational) strive to connect, communicate and drive business value in an always on, constantly connected world.

In conclusion…
If you think technology is the answer to your social media woes – you are sadly and hugely mistaken. Tools are only as good as those handling them and there are many, many questions tech alone can’t solve. I am a big fan of technology, data and all that geeky stuff – I am not saying there are not advantages and benefits (huge) to be gained through use of technology in social media, far from it. What I am saying categorically is this – without the people and the process in place the technology is irrelevant! Technology put in place without the right people & processes = a waste of budget.

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