'BtoB's' Leading Edge: Developing a social plan vital

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New York—Jeremiah Owyang, industry analyst partner-customer strategy at Altimeter Group, presented a keynote presentation urging businesses to focus on building effective social strategies at BtoB's Leading Edge virtual event Thursday. “Social media crises are on the rise,” Owyang said, pointing to Altimeter research that shows about two-thirds of social media crises could have been avoided if companies had implemented a social media plan that included education, training and solid processes. He presented a social business strategy, adapted from psychologist Abraham Maslow's “hierarchy of needs,” with five levels: foundation, safety, formation, enablement and enlightenment. “Every company has to lay a foundation with objectives, policies and education, giving employees access to social media tools,” Owyang said. “Most companies are not prepared.” For the second level—safety—companies need to put a dedicated team in place and have a crisis plan, he said. For example, when a bad storm recently grounded planes, Frontier Airlines had a crisis plan in place and used Twitter to listen to conversations, respond to customers and send out updates. The formation level involves taking inventory of all social media accounts—the average company has 178—and implementing a cross-functional plan across the organization. Many companies have set up social media “centers of excellence” to do this, Owyang said. The fourth level—enablement—is often the hardest, he said. “Once you have done the first three, you need to turn the reins over to the business units and encourage them to run their own social media programs within the guidelines you have set.” At the top level is enlightenment. “This is mainly aspirational—few companies are at this level,” Owyang said. “All employees are using social media in a safe and consistent way, using data from customers, employees and partners, which is all being integrated back into a central dashboard to predict what employees, customers and partners need.”
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