Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 | 4 min read
When I started working at the American Heart Association in 2010, social was in an early experimental stage. It was about trying new ideas, new presences and seeing what worked and didn’t work.
Like many others, we’ve evolved and refined our strategy, tactics and governance. As the first full-time social media community manager, I’ve seen our team grow to more than 80 individuals who are goaled around social media across the county. While this increased focus is very exciting, we’ve had to re-evaluate our organizational goals and strategy — as well as how we can use social as a vehicle to get there.
We can’t push messages that don’t resonate with our community anymore. We need to listen to our consumers and create experiences for them with our brand. It makes it less about social, less about the brand and more about our consumers. One thing I love about my work is having the privilege to be there for community members who are going through a rough time or have an ailing loved one. Sometimes, we give people helpful resources; other times, we simply offer a virtual hug — letting them know someone’s there who cares.
Through governance, we’re able to set guidelines and procedures for the whole organization. Governance makes it possible for our social media community managers to speak in one unified tome — whether they’re in L.A. or a small town in Ohio — to create a fluid experience for our consumers. At the same time, our governance framework is also flexible enough for local offices to feel empowered to make their own decisions. If we have a campaign, each affiliate decides how much, or in what way, they should participate.
We set overarching guidelines and have a playbook at the national level; but our affiliates drill down and decide what works best for them. An organization with a flexible social governance structure — rather than one where the national center barks orders downwards — spawns collaboration, mutual respect and social success.
Social governance does not happen overnight. Be okay with this, and take your time. There’s a lot of figuring out to do, so you must work together. Governance has to be a collaborative process. If you try to push it down on people, it won’t work. Lastly, social governance structure needs to be reviewed frequently to ensure it is up-to-date.
Social governance takes a lot of work and dedication, but the fruits of your labor will be worth it. When you have social governance, you’re able to deliver better online experiences and ultimately better relationships with your consumers.
Krisleigh Hoermann is the Director of Operation and Digital and Social Media Consultant for the American Heart Association. She is responsible for connecting the brand with online audiences, creating communities and building the nonprofit’s online presence. Follow her on Twitter.
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