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Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives

August 9, 2010

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Who leads your organization’s social media initiatives? Is it someone who rose up and took the role or is is someone who was assigned that role?

Social media isn’t something that can just be assigned to someone any more than you can just assign someone to be the homecoming king. Adding “social media” to that junior public affairs officer’s job description isn’t suddenly going to turn your organization into the next Zappo’s. While you’re at it, you might as well add “organizational budgeting” and “legal review” to his job description too – those are two other things that he/she might be able to do well, but would you really entrust those duties to them?

This is why so many social media initiatives fail – not because of technology or policy, but because of people.  We talk often about what department should lead social media, how to get leadership buy-in for social media, or what technology should be used, and while those are important discussions to have, you should be focused on identifying WHO should be leading the social media initiatives.  Not whether that’s the Chief Marketing Officer or the Director of Public Affairs or the Community Relations Lead, but actual names of people.  Remember, social media is driven by the person, not the position.

The best person right now might be Joe over in Marketing, but what if Joe leaves the organization?  Who leads the social media initiatives then?  The answer isn’t necessarily Joe’s replacement.  It might be Kim over in HR. It might be that new guy over in community relations, or maybe it’s your webmaster.  The point is that social media doesn’t fit nicely into just one job description.  There’s a very real human element to it, and identifying the wrong person, even if it is the right position is often the biggest determination in the success or failure of your social media initiatives.

To find the right person to handle social media for your organization, look for people who:

  • LOVE your organization and really understand its mission – first and foremost, find the people who love their jobs and believe in your mission. This isn’t a job for the person interested in just the paycheck.
  • Believe in the transformative power of social media – it’s not about applying the same old processes to new tools. It’s about fundamentally transforming the way your organization interacts with the public, your customers and with each other.
  • You enjoy being around – If a person is a real butthead in real-life, he’s going to be that way online too, and you can’t afford to have someone like that representing you or your organization
  • Have little fear of failure – Early in my career, a client pulled me aside after they shot down 3 straight ideas I had and told me, “I want to make sure that you understand we WANT you to continue bringing those off-the-wall ideas because it forces us to think of things we never thought of and even if we don’t take your suggestions now, they all become building blocks for future ideas.”
  • Enjoy working in teams – Social media is “social” – you have to enjoy working with a diverse group of people
  • Are responsive – There is no 24 hour news cycle any more. It’s real-time baby. You need people who you KNOW will reply to emails, tweets, texts, etc. quickly and thoroughly. Interestingly, these are also often the people who are the most ambitious and passionate about your organization too.  (*note – these are also the people who may take longer lunches or come in a little late because they don’t just “shut off” at 5:00 PM)
  • Can speak like a human being – Corporate marketing speak, statistics, facts, and figures are good, but when was the last time you got inspired by a pie chart? Find people who can connect with their colleagues/customers/clients on a personal level
  • Are very aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are open about them – One of the first things I tell new employees is to find out what you’re good at and find out what you’re not good at, and then find people who are good at those things and make friends with them. In social media, you’re going to come across issues regarding privacy, IT, legal, communications, and HR, not to mention specific functional areas of your organization. You can’t know it all – know what you don’t know, and know who to contact for help.
  • Are humble -People mess up in social media. A lot.  It’s ok.  Admit you’re wrong, fix what you messed up and move on. Not everyone can do this, and very few can do it well.

Now that I think about it,these are many of the same qualities that exist in any leader, right?  So, what other qualities would you look for when trying to identify someone to head up a social media initiative?

This post was inspired by Andrew Wilson’s “Innovation Lab | Who Should Be At The Table” post and Lovisa Williams’ “The Intersection” post. Fantastic stuff (as usual) by the both of them.

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Managing Your Time While Managing Your Social Media

June 18, 2010

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Thanks to Katie Mercado, I had the opportunity to give a presentation on time management and social media at today’s 33rd Annual PRSA Maryland Chesapeake Conference.   I was actually a little surprised when Katie approached as I feel like there’s so much more that I could be doing, more that I could be reading, and more people that I could be meeting.  I often feel like I’m fighting a constant battle against FOMO and HOLI – there’s always another blog I should be reading or another event I should be attending.

However, as I pulled these slides together, I started to notice that I was a doing a little better job than I thought I was.  While I still feel like there’s always more that I could do, I have also learned to better focus my time on what’s important and what will help me accomplish my goals.  Sure, there’s a lot of interesting events, blogs, and tweets that I’m missing, but I’m also very aware of the opportunity cost of trying to do everything – the lost productivity, the increased sick days, the constant tired feeling, the loss of focus.

The slides below reflect some of what I’ve learned over the last few years as well as some of the tips and tricks that I show my colleagues and clients when they’re first getting started in social media.

Time Management Strategies for Social Media

The key takeaways that I wanted the attendees to walk away were:
  1. Not information overload but filter failure – There’s always been too much information for us to ever possibly consume. The only difference now is that the gatekeepers (book publishers, TV producers, etc.) who used to act as our quality filters are gone.  We have to now set up our own filters.
  2. Self-discipline is needed – All the technical tools in the world won’t help you if you don’t have the self-discipline to turn off Twitter every once in a while.
  3. Social media saves time too – Don’t just think of all the ways social media is going to take up too much, think of ways that social media can save you time too.
  4. Have a goal – Is it helping you accomplish what you want to accomplish?  If not, then why are you doing it?
  5. Spend some time up front and set up your filters – Spend a few hours up front to save TONS of hours later on.
  6. It’s not about the technology – Ultimately, your best filters aren’t technical – they’re human.  They’re the ones sharing the links, blogging about the topics, and speaking about the issues – find people you trust and respect and use them as your filter.
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At the Gov 2.0 Expo – Who’s Making You Successful?

May 26, 2010

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Last week, I participated in Tim O’Reilly’s Gov 2.0 Expo held here in Washington, DC and I was honored to be a member of the Program Committee for this event as well as last year’s Expo Showcase and Summit.  With each and every one of these events, I always looking forward to meeting and learning from the Gov 2.0 rockstars – Linda Cureton, Chris Rasmussen, Steve Ressler, Clay Johnson, Macon Phillips, Mary Davie, and so many others – people who have helped pave the way for conferences like this. Take a look at this speaker list and take a guess at where this movement would be without them. I think I get smarter just through osmosis when I’m talking with these folks! Kudos to Tim, Laurel, Mark, Suzanne, Jessica, Alex, and the rest of the O’Reilly team for pulling together another great event.

I'm pretty sure this image is going to be on everyone's Gov 2.0 Expo posts

As I did last year following the Summit, instead of doing a summary post of all that was Gov 2.0 Expo 2010 (I couldn’t possibly do any better than Alex’s fantastic wrap-up post here anyway), I’ll take a more focused view and discuss one issue that really struck me.

Last year, I said I wanted to hear more about the processes behind the success stories.  To learn more about the failures in Gov 2.0.  I think we started to accomplish that this year – the many panel presentations and workshops seemed more conversational and attendees seemed more willing to ask questions.  I heard a lot more discussion about how the speakers handled difficult situations, how they worked with legal, and how they got senior leadership buy-in. While there’s still a need to hear more about the failures of Gov 2.0, I think those discussions are probably more likely to occur in the hallways than on the stage.

What really got my attention as I sat listening to visionary leaders like Todd Park, Linda Cureton, and Jeffrey Sorenson was this post by Robert Shedd – just who makes these people successful?  That’s the question that I started to get more and more curious about as the Expo continued. Who are the people behind these leaders?  Who are the people back at the office making sure the social networks are growing?  Who are the people responsible for implementing these grand programs?  Who are the people telling these leaders they’re wrong?  Who are the people coming up with all of these ideas?  That’s why I loved when Alex Ross told the story of Katie Dowd, Katie Stanton, and Caitlin Klevorick at the State Department (fast forward to the 2:00 minute mark of this clip) who came up with the idea for the Haiti Red Cross text messaging campaign. While Alec was the one speaking and getting the credit, he realized that it wasn’t about him or his ideas – it was about the people actually making these things happen.

As Shedd mentions in his post,

“In much the same way as you need to train yourself to recognize the market ‘pains’ that product opportunities create, you need to train yourself to note who you work best with, what personalities are most compatible.”

For me, any and all success that I or my firm has had can be traced back to the work of my team.  Sure, I may be the one on the stage, but I’m generally not the one on the ground day after day working with the client.  I’m writing blogs – they’re trying to explain Twitter to a three-star general.  I’m speaking at events – they’re trying to do more work while still staying under budget.  That’s why I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to some of the other Booz Allen folks you may have met at the Expo, but whom you might not know well…yet.

  • Thank you Jacque Brown for never being afraid to tell me when I’m wrong or when I’m being a real dumbass.
  • Thank you Matt Bado for always stepping up to handle things when I’m out of the office
  • Thank you Michael Dumlao for being the right side of my brain – everything you create always looks fantastic
  • Thank you Tim Lisko for being the social media conservative who also understands the benefits
  • Thank you Grant McLaughlin for always believing in me and providing me the top cover that I need to make things happen, even when it sometimes puts you in a tough spot
  • Thank you Walton Smith for always being open and collaborative, regardless of any internal politics that may exist
  • Thank you Tracy Johnson for being able to take some of my crazy abstract ideas and figuring out ways to make them work
  • Thank you to the many many others back at my company who have helped turn an idea into a true program

Please take this opportunity to go back to your blog and write a post on who makes you successful.  Highlight the work of someone who works with you, someone who has helped get you to where you are today.  Give them the attention and recognition that they deserve and leave a comment here with a link to your post.  Who has helped you turn an idea into a successful program?

*Photo courtesy of James Duncan

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Will I See You at the Gov 2.0 Expo?

May 25, 2010

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Download our Gov 2.0 Capabilities Brochure

I’ll be at the Gov 2.0 Expo this week and I’m hoping that I’ll see you either there, or at one of the happy hours/tweet-ups that will surely be occurring.  If you’re the least bit interested in social media or the future of our government, I’d highly encourage you to register and come down for at least a few sessions. There are more than a hundred GREAT sessions taking place, but if you can’t get to all of them, consider participating in one of these ten hidden gems too.

If you are able to make it down to the Convention Center, make sure you stop by the Booz Allen booth on the Expo floor and say hello to me or to one of the many members of our team who will be attending the Expo as well.  Booz Allen is proud to be one of the Platinum Sponsors and I’m one of the members of the Program Committee – needless to say, everyone here at my firm believes very strongly in the principles of Gov 2.0 and has for some time now.  From our work with the Military Health System to U.S. Pacific Command’s All-Partners Access Network (APAN), Booz Allen has long advocated the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration with all of our clients.

Grant McLaughlin and Walton Smith, two of our Principals, recently gave a short preview of what they will be discussing at the “Innovations in Gov 2.0” session on Wednesday.

Here are some of the projects we’ll be highlighting over the next three days:

Military Health System (MHS)

To strengthen relationships with its nine million beneficiaries and numerous stakeholder communities, the Department of Defense Military Health System (MHS) partnered with Booz Allen Hamilton to leverage social media (MHS Social Media Hub) to help MHS address service members’ healthcare concerns, collaborate with stakeholders, support combat operations, and enhance its capacity to reach and influence diverse audiences.  If you’re interested in learning more about our work with MHS, find Don Jones at the Expo or read more here.

U.S. Pacific Command All-Partners Access Network (APAN)

Booz Allen is working with PACOM to create APAN, a secure platform to foster collaboration and communication between government agencies, international partners, and non-government agencies.  The U.S. Pacifc Command (PACOM) operates in the Pacifc Rim with numerous actors (military, civilian, government, non-government) who must all cooperate in crisis and disaster response situations, joint exercises with foreign militaries and other events where open information flow is essential to success.  APAN has file sharing applications, wikis, blogs and calendaring tools to coordinate schedules. The system also supports mobile applications and integrates public social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as sophisticated geospatial systems, such as Open Street, to create detailed maps of damaged areas. The system is designed to handle extremely secure communications, while also interacting with  the general public and disaster relief workers  and organizations. If you’re interested in learning more about APAN, talk to Walton Smith at the Expo or learn more on Bill Ives’ blog here.

U.S. Navy Chief of Information Office (CHINFO)

Booz Allen partnered with the Navy’s Emerging Media Directorate within CHINFO to develop a strategy for providing guidance to all Navy Commands on how to successfully integrate social media into their Public Affairs activities. We worked closely with the Navy Office of the Chief of Information (CHINFO) Emerging Media & Integration Team to develop a plan to:

  • Integrate and optimize CHINFO’s use of social media as engagement tactic
  • Achieve greater understanding of the use of social media among 300+ Public Affairs Officers
  • Foster and align use of social media by commands and commanders (400,000+ Active Duty & Reserve personnel)
  • Achieve recognition for the Navy as a military/government leader in social media

To learn more about what the Navy’s doing with social media, check out the Navy’s social media directory and SlideShare account. Or find Commander Scott McIlnay or Tracy Johnson at the Expo.

DHS First Responders Communities of Practice

Booz Allen is working with the DHS Science & Technology Directorate to build and manage the DHS First Responders Community of Practice – a platform that serves the nation’s 2.8 million emergency first responders (e.g., fire, emergency management, law enforcement). Launched in December 2009, the First Responders CoP is designed to decrease duplicate efforts across the various first responder communities and disciplines.  Users can connect with other first responders, create and join communities, create, share and edit documents, blogs, and discussions.  In addition, users can add “expertise tags” which allow them to easily find someone with specific expertise and view and connect to other users with similar expertise.

To learn more, make sure you attend Jose Vazquez’s presentation on Tuesday evening, or find Alexis Fabbri or Walton Smith on the Expo floor.

Meet our People

Stop by booth 309 (I think) to talk with our experts on privacy, cybersecurity, social media, Enterprise 2.0, identity and more.  Make sure that you follow all of our Booz Allen attendees on Twitter too!

Want to Work for Booz Allen?

Make sure you stop by our booth and find Annie Chae (@anniechae), one of our lead recruiters and one of my favorite people.  She’ll be able to answer all your questions about working for us.

Even if you have no interest in the work that we’re doing, make sure check out the full program schedule and try to come by and get to know some of the people who are driving this transformation in the way our government operates.

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