Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting to a really smart group of credit union leaders about social media at the CUES School of Strategic Marketing. But I only had 30 minutes on the agenda – how do you cover such a sprawling topic in such a tiny timeframe? Lucky for me, the group was focused and we got right down to business tackling three big challenges of managing a social media program: 

  1. Risk Management
  2. Resource Management
  3. Culture Management

We hear the first two challenges all the time from our clients. These are widely recognized as pain points, holding many financial institutions back from good engagement and sometimes from being in the social space at all. The third challenge, managing the interaction between an organization’s culture and its social media, is something I don’t think we’re talking about enough, which is exactly why it’s on the list. (If any of these sound familiar to your organization, let’s talk!)

In the third section of my presentation, there was one little line buried in the middle of a slide that I really wish we had more time to give. At least, it should have been a headline. Actually, it could have been the whole half hour. Not because it’s especially original, but because it’s a “back to basics” approach that we all need to remind ourselves about sometimes:   

“Social media is social first, then media.”

This is why we struggle to place social media in our traditional owned/earned/paid media model. It’s owned, though platforms continually remind us that we’re playing in their sandbox. It’s earned, if we’re doing it right. More and more, it also needs to be paid, as the formula for gaining reach is being further monetized.   

But a “social first” approach means focusing on the social merit of our content before we think about the media model. If our content doesn’t engage real people in the real world, it’s not going to fare better in the virtual world, no matter how much we spend to boost it.

A simple way to assess content for social merit is to treat your colleagues as a casual focus group. Share it with them and see how they respond.

  • Do they find the idea informative or delightful?
  •  Do they express a genuine emotion, or have a good laugh?
  • Do they talk about it, and tell other people?
  • Does it shift the way they think about the topic?
  • Does it inspire them to be generative – to share their own stories or build on yours somehow? 

If you see these reactions, you’re on the right track. If not, your content isn’t ready for social media.

Don’t get me wrong, the core insights driving your social media program should come from deep understanding of, and empathy for, your external target audiences. But tapping your coworkers for a reaction to specific content can gain you some great insights too. And they’re sitting right over there.

So the next time I get to speak on social media, I won’t make the cardinal mistake of burying the lead. I hope that the attendees at the CUES School had many takeaways from our 30 minutes together. I certainly learned a lot listening to them. But if they only remember 30 seconds, I hope it includes putting social first.

Further Reading:

Recently, my colleague Kristiana Lockman published a great piece about harnessing the talents and passions of your internal stakeholders to make your social media program successful. This speaks more directly to that third critical area of challenge, culture management. If your social media strategy doesn’t have a robust section for engaging your internal brand advocates, this will be a terrific place to start.

Check out participants’ tweets about CUES School of Strategic Marketing on the hashtag #CUESMarketing, follow that organization at @TheRealCUES, and follow Weber Marketing Group at @WeberMarketing.

Also:

Kristiana and I will be doing a webinar on September 4th called Is Your Social Media Program Anti-Social: Why financial institutions need to make their social media more social (and how you can start today). It will include plenty of practical tips and tools – we hope you’ll join us! 

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