You’ve impressed the right people. You’ve sold your social media strategy to management. You’re confident with the strategy/product you’ve chosen, so why are you still nervous about the outcome?
Managing change is a difficult undertaking, especially in some organizations that are focused on the way things have “always been done.” But the skills that will inevitably make your social media implementation successful are also what will help you win over the nonbelievers.
You know this is essential in adopting and carrying out your social media presence but it is also essential as you go about implementing it within your own organization. A key part of transparency is constant communication. Let everyone know what is going on. Send out memo updates, hold info sessions, post it on an internal site. Provide your organization with so much information about the implementation and rollout that everyone from the executive board to the receptionist can tell you the exact stage you’re on within your plan. Your organization can choose to tune out the over-abundance of information but as long as you are providing it, they cannot say they didn’t know. Plus it is wonderful practice for the type of communication you will be doing when you have implemented your social media strategy.
You have a plan in place as to what software vendor you are using to create your web presence but there are probably still a few items that need to be tied down. Maybe you have a plan for what you will be communicating but are not sure who will monitor what is being said about you on the web. Enlist the help of others; whether it’s asking their opinions or asking them to guest write a blog post now and then. Getting people involved gives them a stake in the success of your mission.
Be a good listener.
In addition to asking questions and enlisting volunteers, part of being inclusive is listening to the talk around you. (This is also part of being successful in social media.) Listen to what is being said when you solicit advice or questions but also listen to what is being said indirectly. For face-to-face conversations, watch the body language. Is someone walling themselves off from you? Maybe you need to be more of a connector when speaking with him or her. Repeat what’s been said to you to make sure there aren’t any issues with communication. Compliment people on great ideas and thank them for expressing their opinion (especially when they disagree with you. It takes an added effort to recognize the value in an opposing opinion.) Creating and encouraging two-way communication will be a skill you will need to cultivate to be successful in social media as well.
Be an educator (if needed).
You have brought technology or social media to your organization. You will have supporters and you will have detractors. Navigating the obstacles put in place by the detractors is easier when you know why they are opposing your strategy or technology. Sometimes the answer is as simple as not understanding what you are proposing. In a straight-forward, non-condescending way, provide them with the information on how you made the decision, what options you weighed and why the solutions chosen best fit your organization. You may feel like you are giving your initial pitch all over again, this time to a set of non-decision makers, but in the long run helping others understand the process and the technology will pay off for you. Not only will you understand your strategy better, but also you will add to their comprehension of the existing technology as well.
In addition to not understanding the technology, some fear it because of the amount of work they think it will add to their already full schedule. Social media, when done correctly, is not something that happens on auto-pilot. There is a substantial time investment concerned in creating and maintaining relationships. If social media will affect the amount of work that will be done by an individual, be upfront. If appropriate, see what you can do to help them manage the additional workload. If no additional work will be required let them know this as well. Some may even be worried that embracing technology will mean they will no longer be necessary or may be replaced by a younger, less costly and tech-savvy applicant. Do your best to assure these co-workers. Let them know who will be in charge of setting up the strategy and who will maintain it going forward. As mentioned in the transparency section, communicate expectations, estimated man hours and goals from the start.
Managing change is a weighty undertaking even in the best of economic times. When the uncertainty of a troubled economy is stirred into the mixture, many workers feel threatened and cynical in regards to technology changes. But if you put into practice the keys to succeeding in social media prior to your launch, you and your organization will reap the rewards.