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How do you coordinate social media in a large organization?

In my presentation on Sunday to the IEEE Board of Directors on organizational social media, I got a great question from a member of the board, “Our organization is not like the others that you’ve worked with. We have many local chapters that we can’t order around. How can we work with them to succeed in social media?”

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It’s a common type of question. Every client always thinks that their organization is unique—and in many ways they are. But usually, I have seen the situation somewhere before. Sometimes, when I am in a snarky mood, I tell clients, “Yes, you are unique, just like everyone else.” But I wasn’t brave enough to say that to a board member.

Instead, I told him that I had seen this before. Many companies work with dealers and agents and distributors that represent their brand name to the public but who are running totally separate businesses. Even in a large company, the size of the organization might mean that the first executive two people have in common is the CEO, who you aren’t going to get to order anyone to do what you want.

No, no matter what the organizational situation, you won’t get very far ordering people to do what you want in social media.

Instead, you must make these people want to work with you. You must become a resource. If you want people to listen to you about how to work in social media, you have to know more than they do. You have to have the right answers. You have to know the best practices, the techniques, the metrics, the approaches—you have to help them.

You can’t just order them around.

Now, you might be wondering how you can become that person that they will want to listen to. It won’t be easy. You might need to hire an expert or do a lot of learning—but you need to do something.

People will not listen to you because you say you are in charge. They will listen if you know your stuff.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.
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