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The First 30 Days: Lessons from a New Job as Social Media Leader

Tips for Marketers Entering a New Social Leadership Role

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Thirty days ago I stepped into the role of Digital Governance Center of Excellence lead at SAP. It's quite an immersion as I embark on leveraging great work done in the past to kick-start the next gen of social media channel governance. But social media remains a "wild kingdom" that's tough to harness, so here are my tips for anyone entering a new leadership role in the social media space. I focus here on governance, but I think the lessons are widely applicable.

My top three takeaways after 30 days:

1. Find mechanisms to harness the best practices from "leaders of the pack." Information too often stays within the domain of the early practitioners, while others struggle up the same learning curve and waste time. The best thing we can do is leverage the learnings of the teams who've mastered an approach to raise the level of performance across the board. Examples:

  • One team has experience targeting millennials on Instagram. How's that working for a b-to-b company? Who else might this work for?
  • One region has piloted an employee advocacy program with a vendor that is now being adopted by others and everyone expresses interest in it. We will get a case study about what that team accomplished shared in our center of excellence, quickly.
  • We have power users who could offer "master classes" on topics by simply recording themselves as they work on a task. This can get posted on our center of excellence site, pronto.

2. Govern rampant proliferation of company social accounts. The best way to control this unwieldy environment where poorly conceived company accounts can be created without any formal approval process is not with a "stick" but with a "carrot." Show employees why opening a new social account (rather than leveraging an existing one) is simply a bad idea, with case studies of success. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Opening multiple company accounts can confuse the target audience.
  • Pull existing examples from your "leaders of the pack."
  • Set up a showcase of social media examples, such as new initiatives that leverage established accounts with smart hashtag usage.

3. Establish a framework to decide what social channels a business unit should have. A good framework to use is: business unit goals + audience online preferences + social platform strengths = social presence.

  • This forces the conversation to start with a strategic approach.
  • It helps the team decide where to invest resources.
  • Your less-experienced people will realize the answer has evolved beyond "Lets put up a Facebook page."

Most importantly, begin with an outside-in perspective by reading the research of leading analysts in your specific space. Market dynamics change rapidly, so leverage the knowledge of people who are experts and talk to many companies to paint a composite picture for you. My favorite research report on this topic is Social Business Governance: A Framework to Execute Social Business Strategy, from Altimeter Group.

If you don't get an outside-in perspective, you'll quickly get pulled into execution mode and lose your window of opportunity to drive an evolved conversation.

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