The following are critically important, baseline activities which I’ve observed to be crucial to a well-conceived, comprehensive Social Tech implementation map.

12 Foundational Actions

  1. Deep, Solid Education for Leadership – This is an absolutely essential element. Without this piece, there is very little chance for lasting, meaningful results. This is a really tough assignment, by the way, and takes a very special skill set.
  2. Define the Business Goals – Notice the reference is to “Business Goals”, not Social Tech Goals. Like anything else, true success comes with alignment. Social Tech supports the business on many fronts. It’s never a stand-alone element.
  3. Set a Governance Plan in Place – What are the policies and guidelines, both for employees, staff responsible for representing the company and responding to the external world, as well as business and trading partners?
  4. Build Rivers of Information – Knowledge always has been and always will be power. Organizations that harness the incredible River of Information flowing through Social will be unstoppable.
  5. Document the Content Calendar – While avoiding a rigid approach to content, it’s nonetheless important to plan content strategies across the various outposts according to the predictable ebb and flow of the org, the industry, and the culture.
  6. Begin Testing Crowdsourcing Internally – In an era of limited funds and resources, and increasing expectations, Crowdsourcing rides in on a White Horse.  Operations that dig in and figure out Crowdsourcing will have drive a sustained advantage. It’s hard, though, so starting internally makes sense.
  7. Train the Sales Team on Social, Mobile – Socially Facilitated Selling can positively impact sales metrics at all stages. Senior Sales Leadership, Management, and Front-liners need real-deal training as well as meaningful changes to incentives and compensation. This is where the payoff is, but the strategy must be holistic.
  8. Establish Top4 Near-Perfect Social Outposts – The consensus, circa 2014, and this varies by industry and segment, is this: Networks – Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and YouTube. Media – Meme’s, Tweets, Video’s, Blogs, Infographics, Slideshares. Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest are becoming more and more important as well.
  9. Decide on a Common Set of Tools – As with any project, the Tools are critically important, all the more so with Social Tech. Creating, Publishing, Responding, Delegating, Archiving, Tracking, Measuring, Reporting – the bigger and broader the enterprise, the more powerful the tools are required.
  10. Determine the Metrics to Track – While the Tools themselves have their own sets of measurements, the real effort comes from mapping the business goals to the corresponding metrics to the desired constituent behaviors.
  11. Update the Current Site with Blogs and Pointers – Be careful here. While it’s true that the vast majority of Web sites need nearly complete replacement, as in gutting the kitchen, in the meantime, simply adding links to the Outposts and adding a blog will do.
  12. Designate a Few Pilot Projects – Lastly, it’s vitally important to pursue low-hanging fruit, or in some cases, as a boot camper coined the phrase – “ground fruit”. The pilot projects will vary by company, and are best characterized as easy, cheap, and effective.

Note: If physical locations are important relative to sales and marketing, such as with an agency that sees walk-in or Search-related local traffic, online or off-line, customers and prospects, location-based Search & Social integration should be a part of Phase One. The combination of Google+, Places, and YouTube, combined with Yelp and other ratings sites, is vitally important for Reputation Management and leads.

Six More Actions To Take It Up A Notch

Given that many have already moved through the foundational stages, or for those starting out that want a peak at what Phase Two looks like:

  1. Overhaul Sales & Marketing Web sites – These are normally 6-9 month projects, minimum. They usually involve a meaningful budget. While effective, they’re not easy or cheap. Tools like HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo, and others, the next-gen, SaaS, Content Management power tools for Web sites, can shorten the time, and greatly amplify the results. (And don’t be fooled – they’re not just for SMB.)
  2. Develop a Video Strategy – as with Web site overhauls, creating effective video is also not easy or cheap, but done well, video is always the single most powerful piece of content. Once the content strategies, tools, and resources are in place, video’s are fairly simple, but tedious. This is a prime opportunity to activate Crowdsourcing.
  3. Go hard after Mobile, both Responsive Design and App’s – More than half of all new phones sold are Smartphones, an increasing trendline. Tablets are coming on like a freight train. App’s are advancing extremely quickly, costs are dropping, and utilization is increasing. Mobile is not complicated at this point, but simply takes focus.
  4. Determine 2nd-Tier Outposts – After defining and mastering the initial wave of Social Outposts, go after the 2nd-Tier. Know that today’s 2nd-Tier is tomorrow’s 1st-Tier. It takes about a year to mature into a channel. Remember Rivers of Information here.
  5. Define Organizational Voice – Remember that OV includes both internal and external voice. This is where tools like Jive Software come into play – internal collaborative networks. The tools can also be used for Community management. OV is an enterprise strategy, top to bottom, at all staff, customer & partner touch points.
  6. Pursue Inbound Content Marketing – Sales and Marketing has always been about the golden triumvirate: right place, right time, right message. Inbound Content Marketing optimizes this triangle. It’s complicated, but with the right tools in place, Content Marketing yields perhaps the best results, up and down the pipeline.

Beyond Social Tech

Within a couple years, the word “Social” will drop out of prominence. However, don’t be fooled. Here’s why: The concepts we’re talking about in 2014 will become so ingrained and assumed, that to mention them will seem obvious, and thus a waste of time and yesterday’s buzz word. Think of the term “e”. Do you hear folks talking about “e” this or “e” that anymore? Not so much. It’s assumed.

So depending on where you sit on this technology and Social Business continuum, here are a few concepts at which to point your River of Information (or to start drilling into if you’re ready). Social Tech will serve as the power grid for these: The better the org is at handling Social Tech, the better the results will be as it moves into these areas.

  1. Business Intelligence & BigData
  2. White Collar Lean
  3. Adaptive Culture
  4. More robust Mobile App’s

Was this helpful? It’s a lot of information. As you navigate these often uncharted waters, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Perhaps this can serve as the 22-piece Social Tech Jigsaw Puzzle box-top?

Comments and discussion welcome. What is missing from the puzzle? “It’s a lot to bite off all at once.” (Name that movie line!)