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I’ve been reading Almost isn’t Good Enough: The Human Connection Changes Everything. This isn’t  a book review. That will come soon. This book is written to people who are running or involved in not-for-profit work.  The author is standing the world of not-for-profit on its ear and challenging some long standing traditional view of how a not-for-profit is run, and how it takes on the basic clear task of following a mission.

As stated, this is not a book review.  Wayne Elsey is a proven man in the world of for-profit business and not-for-profit organizations. He “gets it” on such a deep level.  I’m reading this book because of my interest in both worlds. So let’s look at some takeaways that I’ve gathered so far from this book that can be applied to any business.

Making a difference
When teaching in the corporate world, I ask companies about their philanthropic works. I often suggest that they strategically support those not-for-profits and the community with their online influence.

“Making a difference in the life of someone else, though, is something that everyone has the capacity to do, regardless of where one is in life and career…

It will create energy around you that will attract others, change lives and offer the opportunity to leave a legacy of change in the midst of a culture of access. “

Clarity

“Success, wealth, and impact are not philosophical ideas to be debated within the halls of academia. They are characteristics grounded in a focused effort over a long period of time that lead to transformation.”

Many times we associate the words mission statement with not-for-profit, but a business should have one too. If you’re not clearly focused on achieving that mission, you’re just working.  If you find the clarity of your mission and follow it, you will be on the path of success, wealth and impact.

Valuing People


Janet Effron wrote a great post called: Company Policy in there she asked

“Is it your practice to hire stupid people?”

That stuck with me. When I work with companies, I often ask to train, not only upper management, public relations,  marketing, and sales people to use the tools of social media, I ask to train support staff, and a variety of other positions within a corporation.  Why? Because, people are what make your company strong. It is the people that you have trusted to represent your brand in the real world, that make your company shine. You should trust that they will make you proud online too, with proper training of you policy, goals, and a clearly defined strategy.

It is our “belief that everyone is at the table because they bring something of value. To that end they are expected to bring that value everyday” You want to “create a culture of empowerment…

It’s vital that we not create barriers to conversations but empower the experts we retain to perform at their highest levels.”’

Are you creating a culture of empowerment, and valuing the people you have chosen to be a part of your business? Do you give them a platform in which to express their knowledge of your product or service, and to become branded themselves as an expert in you field of business; and thus your business is branded thru them? Or do you simply let the PR guys get this new media stuff?Wayne “gets it” no matter if you are talking for-profit or not-for-profit :

“It’s all about the people.”

Letting go of control

Sometimes, those of us who habitually spread ourselves too thin over too many things have to let go.

We like to feel like we are in control in business, life, and relationships.  We micro manage the details to the extreme. And because of this dedication to detail we seem to be successful.

It’s an illusion

The ‘control’ we think we have is an illusion.  We think we are on the right path with our life and career, that we have the reigns of destiny.

One drunk driver, one heart attack, one stray bullet can bring our well crafted, well intended futures crumbling down around us.  Often it’s not until then, when we are left to sift through the rubble, that we realize we never had control in the first place.

I have control of my brand, and my business

No you don’t. With the wide-spread acceptance of social media as a means of communication, a business can no longer hide behind the illusion that it’s in control of its brand by choosing to moderate comments or by choosing not be on social media at all.

Deleting negative posts

When a brand decides to maintain brand reputation by deleting negative feedback, let’s say for example on their Facebook fan page, they assume they are controlling the conversation.  The problem is that the conversation stops between the brand and the consumer and continues consumer to consumer.

People will continue to speak about good and bad service that your brand has provided even if you are not willing to participate.

5 things to consider before you decide

to promote your brand online:

  1. Are you willing to give up control?
  2. Are you prepared to deal with negative feedback?
  3. Do you have a purpose?
  4. What are your goals?
  5. What are you willing to risk?

If you’ve not thought through your goals and laid out a plan that fits your purpose, then you’d better be willing to risk it all.

Guest Blogger today:

Janet Laane Effron ( @janet_frg )

She is a Managing Principal of the Four Rivers Group where she works to support businesses and educational groups in the selection and implementation of processes & technologies to enable organizational learning and informational management. 

 Company Policy

I was asked, recently, about the advisability of including the Blog function in a Sharepoint implementation.  The answer to that lies in a question, the same primary question that needs to be asked if your business is looking Twitter, Yammer, an in-house wiki, or a host of other Social Media tools.  The question is a simple one:

 Is it your company policy to hire stupid people?

 I’m guessing the answer to that question is “no”; that your HR policy is to hire talented, capable, highly motivated professionals who want to excel in their careers.  Assuming that is the case, then there are some other questions to consider:

 Do you want to leverage the talents of your workforce to achieve the greatest business results?

 Do you want employees to have access to the best in-house knowledge to support their performance?

 Do you want to increase efficiency and productivity?

 In this case, I’m guessing the answer is “yes”. 

 So, if you’ve hired intelligent, motivated adult professionals, maybe you need to let them be just that.  Given the opportunity, it is likely a good portion of them will have expertise and insight that they want to share.  And if that expertise is shared on an in-house blog or wiki, then that means the next time someone needs input or advice they’ll be able to track down the experts in the business instead of taking Hobson’s Choice, merely asking the person at the water cooler or in the office down the hall.  And as questions get asked, it’s good odds that more and more of the most needed information will end up on your blog or wiki so that the experts only have to put it out there once, not in twenty separate conversations.  More efficient for the information seekers; more efficient for the information sources.

 Now, of course it is not that simple.  It’s easy to fritter away time on blog posts, micro-blogging or wikis.  It’s easy to spend too much with social media and not enough time on projects.  But you and the rest of your organization face this already, with phone calls, email, the internet, impromptu conversations in the hallway….  Wasting time is a product of people and the company culture, not of tools. 

 In the same way, success of Social Media tools will also hinge on your business culture.  If you have a culture of information hoarding, or of viewing “failure” as worse than inaction, then the best tools in the world will not be effective in leveraging the knowledge and talents of your employees.   Because, as was said before, your employees aren’t stupid.  They’ll contribute and innovate in direct proportion to what your corporate culture really values.

This article is featured in this month’s Evansville Business Journal.

How does a company build its presence on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedln? What are your customers most interested in: what you say about your company or what your friends and their friends say? Kyle Lacy, author of “Twitter Marketing for Dummies,” often says, “I don’t care about your clients.  I care about their friends:’

How do you find and empower brand advocates? Start from within. Your best and most loyal brand advocates are sitting across the cubicle from you. Stand up look over the cubicle wall and say “Hello” to your next brand advocate. Wait, she’s not in sales! He’s not part of the management team! He doesn’t deal directly with customers! However, who are his friends? Or her friends’ friends?

Companies across the nation are scrambling to find and create ways for their brand advocates to show themselves and endorse their brand or product. The companies that do it best start from within. They don’t hire a single person to do all their social media. It is a team effort, built with a strong foundation in goals and strategic planning. Part of that foundation is relying upon the very men and women who make up the work force of the company to tell the story like it is. Today’s customers can spot a smooth campaign. They will trust an authentic voice – from you and your employees. Customers appreciate real engagement, with real people, in real companies.

Your employees are your biggest brand advocates. When you remind them that you believe in them, they will want to tell others they believe in you. Not only that, your employees will be more loyal and dedicated to you, their work and your company.

Put goals, policy and strategy in place before implementing any social media programs. Thorough training is essential for everyone involved so all will advocate well. After these tasks are complete, you start the process of building your advocate base.

Empower advocates from within your company ranks for your social media. The stronger relationships you build with your employees and your customers will position you to engage in the 21 st century. Oh, and it will build your bottom line sales numbers, too. EBJ

Yesterday, Facebook abruptly changed its Facebook fan page policy. In summary, you will not be able to have a custom landing tab for your fan page, unless you have 10k fans or the page administrator works with their ads, account manager. If you suspect that that means you will have to pay to have a custom landing page if you have less than 10,000 followers, you are probably correct.

This change was announced, quietly by Facebook with an apology that no mention was made of it sooner. If you do not already have an ads account representative, you can submit a form which looks like this:

 
 

Notice the budget amounts listed. It does appear that Facebook is looking to monetize the growing trend of businesses using fan pages.

A lot of people are really upset about this change, in particular Twitter chatter and blogs from businesses that sell the service of making customized Facebook tabs.  My perspective is different.

When asked, I would provide custom landing pages.  However, it is not my sole business model.  I did not actively promote custom landing pages as a way to gain fans.

So I am responding, not out of fear for the future of my business, and not out of the stress of dealing with past clients who may now be upset.

Personally, I’m not really upset by this change. Actually, I’m still very grateful for Facebook and what it has done to change the way that we as businesses communicate with our peers, our vendors and our clients. That has not changed.

If you have strong, engaging content on a regular basis, that shows people that you are listening, are responding, and that you care. Your business page will then get you more fans overall than a flashy well-done graphic that you paid a lot of money for people to see as their first impression.

So to you, small businesses, medium businesses, and large companies that are new to Facebook., not yet at your 10k mark: Remember that every post you make is potentially now a first impression.

Make sure you approach your Facebook strategy with this in mind. 

Hint: if you post content that is informative, educational and engaging, people will willingly share this information on their own . They will be a brand advocate for you as they share your content on their pages.

Which is your ultimate goal: to have the most fans? Or is it to have the most fans who love and are actively involved in sharing your content?

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