One of social media’s greatest strengths is conversely something that ties many organisations in knots – the fact it’s free and takes minutes to setup. With such a low barrier to ‘entry’ it’s oh so tempting to create new accounts without due consideration. At best this can result in activity which is surplus to requirements and at worst a series of fragmented communications that can damage brand reputation.
In this blog post I’ll be talking about how we wrestle with this often sensitive topic and work to keep clients’ temptation at bay!
Social network architectures
We support organisations at all stages of the social business maturity model; some with well-established social media teams and governance structures and others taking early steps in their social media journey.
Particularly for those just getting started, a common topic of conversation is defining the most appropriate ‘social network architecture’ as we call it (i.e. the mix of different social network accounts they’re going to use). Pharmaceutical companies will often organise their activity at a global, regional and local level – each with different objectives and priorities. This typically leads to questions such as:
- Should each region or each country have their own accounts?
- Should there be a single corporate account for the whole enterprise?
- Should different brands and therapy areas be represented by separate pages?
The permutations can quickly mushroom.
The trouble is, because the act of creating an account is so straightforward, the temptation can be to set one up first and think about its purpose in the wider scheme of things later.
- A couple of common, inappropriate reasons to setup an account are:
A local office wants the flexibility to communicate with customers in their market, but feels constrained without a social media presence; they want to be proactive and so they push on and set one up
- “Our competitors have accounts, we’d better have one too”
Helping to keep temptation at bay
To help clients with the process of defining (or refining) their social network account architecture we’ll typically start with questions such as:
1. What role is social media ultimately intended to play as part of the organisation’s communication mix at a global, regional and local level? (yep, a pretty big question!)
2. How many different types of audience are you look to reach and engage with?
3. What do you know about your audience’s online behaviours?
4. How does the business organise and structure itself when communicating with customers offline?
5. How is the digital media budget and supporting resource allocated across global, regional and local teams, between corporate and brand,, across medical programmes?
6. What is the current process by which a new social media account is setup and who’s in charge of overseeing this?
Guiding principle #1
With that information we can start to map out the architecture, however we’ll always have our core guiding principle front of mind: start with the minimum number of social media accounts required and go from there.
We think that’s key for a number of reasons:
- It’s far easier, especially for organisations early in the social media maturity model, to keep track of fewer accounts, steadily testing and learning what works, rather than ploughing investment into lots of activity from day one
- Of course, an account can be closed, but it’s often ‘challenging’ (shall we say) to convince a team that one of their accounts isn’t required. The level of emotional labour that goes into a social media account shouldn’t be underestimated. Emotional, and sometimes political, agendas can overpower what appear to be clear, logical arguments
- The effective management of a social media account takes time, effort and budget. The allure of a shiny new social media account can be exciting at first, until a few months later when the ‘hard grind’ or producing content, engaging with comments etc. kicks in
- Social media management tools definitely help, but every account is another touch point for the audience to reach the organisation; all accounts require monitoring and measuring to spot issues and track performance; tasks that need due consideration (of time and resource) at the setup stage
Where does your organisation sit?
If your organisation has been using social media for a while, how many social network accounts exist? How many of them are active and truly adding value? How many of them feel a little unnecessary or without a clear purpose? How many could be ‘retired’?
If your organisation is just getting started, have you looked at the bigger picture of how social media accounts could or should work together?