A Tale of Three Internal Audiences

Source: Flickr CommonsOrganizations getting started on using social communication platforms to achieve business objectives obviously can't ignore their consumers. After all, they're the people who the brand will be interacting with day after day. However, the most important audience may be the one that must be communicated to before that first tweet is posted--the internal stakeholders. 

The internal stakeholders of an organization are a double-edged sword. They can be enablers and help you get the job done, or they can be barriers to success. The remainder may not even care about social media but are still needed to get anything going within the organization.

The Enablers

Enablers are your best friends. They're allies to getting started and pushing things that need to get done. They may take the form of doers who will help you with the day-to-day, or they may be influencers who will make sure you have what you need.

What they want: This group, while extremely valuable, seeks action. They wanted social media as part of the marketing strategy yesterday, which means it's your job to temper their excitement by showing the plan of action, establishing your authority as the social media lead and educating them that leveraging social media effectively doesn't happen over night. You are the filter that all social media efforts go through before seeing the light of day.

The Barriers

Every organization has barriers to social media engagement, and even though they can be frustrating, their heart is usually in the right place. Their hesitation is rooted in the natural fear of the unknown and the loss of control, which may lead them to throw up road blocks.

What they want: They want social media to go away and to stick with the status quo. However, you know it, and I know it. That just isn't an option anymore.

They need assurance, and they need that assurance in writing. Explain to them what is allowed, what isn't allowed and how you plan to exert control, while explaining that control is, indeed, limited. They crave details, so the more you can give them the better.

Be prepared to give concessions, to start small, prove the value of social media and expand your efforts as you earn their trust. The danger is overindulging this group. Often, they'll find any excuse to shut it down. Show that you're willing to negotiate but to a limit.

The I-Don't-Cares

The last group, for better or worse, is sometimes the easiest to work with because it gives you the combination of time and freedom to get things underway. They're not going to get in your way, but they aren't going to make things any easier, either.

What they want? They want success in the social media space. They just don't know it yet. Track all of your efforts and all signs of success by setting objectives in the up-front and measuring against them. Be aware of what the I-Don't-Cares of your organization will be looking for in terms of success and work to measure against it. Then showcase your efforts to turn the I-Don't-Cares into Enablers.

Make Your Case

Most organizations will have a mix of Enablers, Barriers and I-Don't-Cares, and each of them must be addressed and have a degree of consensus.

No one ever said making social media part of your marketing strategy would be easy, and part of the difficulty is satisfying so many stakeholders who have different agendas and expectations. The key is arming yourself with the right enablers to break down the barriers and win over the I-Don't-Cares, while getting alignment on clear objectives and proving success.