“Hey guys, we need a new website, a blog and a Facebook page. We also need one of those twit thingies. I saw it on my blackberry. We can get Barbara in accounting to write the blog everyday – she’s only busy on payday; Steve, in our creative department, can manage the Facebook page ‘cos he’s on it all the time. Let’s chat to the IT guys about a new website, we can have it all running by the end of the week!”
This is an all-too-familiar conversation that we’ve heard in many an EXCO meeting. The problem is that the above intentions, although great and very necessary, need to form part of an online communications strategy that follow the guidelines of the corporate communications strategy. The intentions are spot on: you do need a fresh website, you do need a blog and you do need to be present on social media platforms. However, you need the process to be managed holistically with both the greater vision in mind and sustainability.
ORM STRATEGY Ι GREATER VISION
UNIFIED MESSAGES: When your online communications are split up between departments there tends to be a fragmentation of information. The one page will have the most recent event/newstory whilst another will be talking about something completely different. This sends out a message that you’re not engaging internally and lands you up with a bad online reputation as opposed to the enormous good that all of these platforms can generate. When there is someone overseeing, or managing, all of these platforms you will be able to present a unified, coherent call to action.
TIMEOUS PROMULGATION: One of the keys to effective communication is getting messages delivered and received on time. The more departments that you have to include and disseminate information too, the longer it will take to be promulgated. Have a centralised point that controls, manages and tracks your online presence makes quick and effective announcements possible.
ORM STRATEGY Ι SUSTAINABILITY
There is a misconception that online communication is a campaign. It’ not; it’s a management function. Sure, we run communication campaigns, but there has to be an ongoing communication function (internally and externally) that makes these campaign possible and effective. When this function is ‘managed’ across departments that don’t have communication as their primary objective, they will fall away after time and not but consistent. Sure, Barbara may be a skilled writer, but what happens when she’s bogged down with invoices, debtors, ledgers, SARS and other fun stuff that accountants do? What happens when Steve has a new deadline for a print campaign and doesn’t visit Facebook for three weeks? The answer: your online reputation takes a dive.
When setting up a social media strategy, an online reputation management strategy – or even a full-on corporate communications strategy, there needs to be someone whose sole passion, dedication and job description is to ensure and maintain the success of that function. Otherwise, it’ll just be another ineffective campaign that you right-off at the end of the financial year. Money unwisely spent.