Launching a first social media program
the situation
As social media started first began to emerge as a viable business tool, this insurance organization viewed it with trepidation. The risks were high and the rewards were unproven. It was early days, when the notion of relinquishing control over messaging was anathema to organizations used to one-way, top-down communication.
the opportunity
The use of social media had the potential to transform this company's position in the marketplace. As a business based on trust, it had the opportunity to extend its reach, offer unprecedented accessibility, deliver efficient customer service, and directly engage its current and prospective customers in genuine and responsive dialogue. It could cultivate have a means of detecting and responding to issues when they first began to emerge. And it had the chance to learn about the needs and preferences and behaviours of its stakeholders in ways it could never have before.
The Result
I developed a business case for what would be the organization's first venture into social media. It provided robust data to substantiate its benefits. It illustrated how it could take a lead position within an industry that had typically lagged in the area, but at the same time could leverage the experiences of companies in related industries. It outlined how the organization's brand characteristics lent themselves perfectly to the qualities of empowerment, enabling, sharing, listening, individualism, and accessibility inherent in social media. I set out principles and objectives, outlined an organization structure and governance, estimated resource requirements, and described a phased approach to implementation. And then I pitched the story to senior leadership in a way that assured them we would move slowly, cautiously, with risk mitigation strategies fully in place.

The Chief Marketing Officer bought into the vision and put the organization's full weight behind the program. Within a few months I'd established a small team and developed an overall strategy along with a governance model, processes for legal review and overall approval of content, response and engagement protocols, and guidelines for employees. By the end of the first year we'd established multiple channels on each of the major platforms. We gained a 64 per cent share of social media voice (compared with 28 per cent for the largest competitor) and reduced telephone inquiries to the Call Centre by 20 per cent and resolution time by 40 per cent. Within two years we were viewed as leaders within the industry in our use of social media.

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