Independent Thinking Blog

Integrating Social Media: Lessons From the Trenches

Yesterday’s Social Media Breakfast was all about how to integrate social media across your organization. Mike Kohn and Brian Reilly of SmithGroup and Erin Orr of Fox Architects offered case studies from the architectural and engineering sector.

Six lessons learned:

1. You have to start somewhere. Orr talked about “diving in and asking for forgiveness later.”

2. Guidelines matter. All three speakers emphasized the importance of having a social media policy. Reilly said SmithGroup’s policy was modeled after IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines. The link on the company’s intranet says “Tweet Responsibly.” How simple is that?

3. Strategy matters. All three speakers stressed the importance of having a strategy. (See Integration.)

4. Integration is key. Orr said she brought together a cross-departmental team to develop the strategy. She asked each person to identify their greatest challenge (e.g., HR cited recruiting ) and used those to set the goals. Kohn said he grabbed people from across the organization to establish a grassroots start-up and begin to build broader-based support for incorporating social media into the workplace.

5. Don’t skip the education. People need to know how to use these tools. Orr talked about holding educational sessions to “break down the barriers of the unknown.” Kohn said that SmithGroup also held a series of in-house educational sessions to familiarize employees with the social media strategy and how they could contribute.

6. Involve everyone. You can’t have “Twitterers in a corner,” said Orr. Kohn noted that SmithGroup’s Facebook page features people across the organization, from interns to new hires to newly certified architects.

Finally, all three talked about the challenge of adding a non-billable activity into businesses that run on billable hours. With no budget for social media and no billable code, this is where you have to point to strategy, opportunity costs, and value to keep you moving forward.

Photo courtesy of Social Media Club DC.

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