I’ve had quite a number of conversations about social media strategy at the council recently, as well as with a number of people via twitter and other networks.
So I thought I’d share my thinking on this and also share the strategy (co-developed by Martin Howitt) which I use to help others as well as a framework to developing a Social Media Action/Implementation Plan.
This is intended to be a reusable framework and strategy – as the detail and local variations will come in your own action plan.
To put this into context the council has already made significant progress around Social Media – In January 2010 the Council introduced a Social Media Policy and Guidelines which states:
Devon County Council is committed to making the best use of all available technology and innovation to improve the way we do business. This includes using all reasonable and cost-effective means to improve the way we communicate, reach out and interact with the different communities we serve.
It includes guidance around personal and professional responsibilities, using social media in different scenarios and key things to consider.
We don’t yet have a formal Social Media Strategy (yet), but the following is what I am personally using and promoting internally as a method and approach to adopting social media within our business operations.
We will maximise the positive impact of our use of social media in support of the councils business aims and social objectives.
- The use of social media, like anything else the organisation does, must be informed by business strategy and social objectives.
- Social technology does nothing on its own. To create value from social media, it is people and processes that must change.
- Becoming a truly social organisation will yield benefits in terms of sustainability, responsiveness, reputation, lower operating costs, and higher social impact.
- Social media can in theory pervade every part of the organisation’s value chain. But it should only do so if there are defined and (where possible) measurable positive business impacts.
- There is no such thing as a social media project: there are only business projects that utilise social media tools to some extent to achieve their objectives.
- A social media capability must therefore be built or adopted specifically to serve the objectives and current projects of the organisation.
- Identify which organisational processes / service areas which might use social software or social media tools
- For each process / service area – state the key objectives and outcomes
- List the available tools and their best-value use cases
- For each process/service area identified in (1), identify the most useful tools from (3) and map the potential benefits to objectives/outcomes in (2)
- Consolidate the list in (4) by channel and/or by organisational role.
- For each role identified in (5), evaluate the cost, benefits, and risks
- Create a prioritised portfolio of projects, expected benefits, and Key Performance Indicators based on the outputs of (6)
I appreciate that this may sound easier than it actually is, but to be honest if it were that easy everyone would be doing it and no one would have trouble justifying its use. If you can build this approach into the service business planning cycle you (as facilitator) and the service area will yield higher results in terms of potential Social Media projects supporting and delivering business outcomes – that is the theory anyway 🙂
As a starting point I’d recommend that you look at your own service area as well as highlighting or at least acknowledging other “high value” organisational processes which could benefit from this exercise, so that you can get familiar with the process and the level of understanding you will need around some of the tools and best value use cases.
It is worth trying to separate the cross cutting processes from the actual service areas for example “community engagement” might be a service area in your organisation as well as it being a cross cutting activity. In my opinion you are likely to identify a better value proposition looking at the cross cutting process of community engagement then the service itself.
In my Council a sample list might look something like this:
Process / Activity Areas
- Community Engagement
- Customer Service
- Staff Engagement
- Community Consultations
- Staff Consultations
- Personal and Self Directed Learning
- Knowledge Sharing
- Policy Development
- Service Planning
- Emergency Communications
- Press and PR Relations
I’ve separated the activities of engagement and consultation on purpose as different social value can be created depending on your approach. By tackling a cross cutting process or activity you can influence and impact a greater number and range of people who can add value when you start looking at this on a service perspective.
- Trading Standards
- Road Safety
- Highways (roads and traffic)
- Waste Services
- Registration Services
The reality here is I could have included a list of nearly all services, but you really need to stay focused and work on a service by service basis sometimes.
I envisage that the best approach would be a twin track approach – During the prioritisation process outlined in stage 7 – try selecting one activity area alongside a service area to increase the organisational learning opportunities.
Hope this is helpful – and I wish you luck….I’d be very keen to hear your stories on how this works or doesn’t for you.