I would like to present five things you can do (or not do) to start on the journey. Well here we go...
- Don't assume that you have to follow the guidelines. Social CRM is new and it is evolving. There is no 'proper' way, no set of rules and no proven 'method' for getting it right. What we do know (and so do you) is that people are out there on the web talking about what you do, what your competitors do, asking for stuff you produce and so on...and they are doing it now.
- Don't wait. The web is abuzz with conversations which can and will affect your business or business opportunity in very close to real time. You can't afford to wait until you have the right strategies and approaches in place. You can't afford to wait until the old guys on the board get their heads around it. It doesn't matter if they don't understand the social web or think it is a fad. The numbers show the latter is untrue (600m Facebook users, 80m on LinkedIn etc etc) and the former is irrelevant...that is why they hired YOU!
- Make the right choices. As with every other new approach or technology or acronym, there will be a million vendors and consultants offering to tell you the right way to do it and sell you the tools. Pick the right ones carefully. Whilst I believe you do have to move fast, it is reasonable to presume if you already are in business then you have a pretty fair idea of how to handle all the analysis and information that will come your way but it does make sense to be clear about what you are going to do with it.
- Don't stress the ROI. Every CxO is going to ask about the ROI for this stuff. Perfectly sensible question. The reality is that the answer is, at present, more closely related to the Hit on Bottom Line (and if anybody tries to turn that into an acronym, I'll scream) that is likely if you don't do it. The ROI of Social CRM is at present a pipe-dream of a calculation unless of course you are using Social CRM tools to actively garner new business (see my article here)
- Build the Corporate ethos. All of us who have worked in large corporates at one point or another know that NOTHING gets said in public without it going through a dozen people up a vertical (if you are lucky) command chain to ensure that the corporation's line is being toed. The bigger the business, the worse it gets. Empowerment is vital and speed is imperative. Trust your people, make sure your policies and standard responses are not patronizing or delaying. The real world will no longer stand for it. There are many well-documented instances of case hitting Twitter, for example, and causing damage to businesses when a quick, helpful message and a rapid fix would have prevented the issue. Toyota present a great example of Twitter use as a 'turn-round' strategy.