Social Media Content Audit

    March 13, 2007

One of the most formidable barriers to the widespread adoption of social media tools within enterprises is fear of failure.   

What if we make blogs, wikis and other social collaboration tools available and nobody uses them?  Unlike the consumer side of the web where the fact that individuals seek out, self-select and manage the social software they want to use is a reliable indication of their motivation to use it, corporations simply have to take it on faith that somebody within the organization will think of something useful to do with these new tools. 

Few managers I’ve met in corporate life are willing to take that kind of risk.  Social media live or die on the strength of their content and what if nobody produces any?  What’s a social media evangelist to do to tip the scales toward success?  Two things, I think:

1) Start small with a well-defined task that you want to accomplish, then select the right social media tool to do it–not the other way around.  If you want to build a repository of information around a subject, use a wiki.  If you want to get smart people sharing their brainstorms on a specific topic–energy, innovation, social media whatever–create a blog network of experts.  Essentially, that’s what the Social Media Today site is a demonstration of.

2) Locate potential sources of content in advance by conducting a Social Media Content Audit

Within every large organization, there are people already doing interesting things and producing useful information around almost any discipline.  They may not know each other or share their expertise, but they are there, often hidden from management and each other by layers of bureaucracy.  Find those people, give them a forum to engage with each other, and good things will happen.

So, how does a Social Media Content Audit work?  Here’s an example that I pulled together for a possible proposal from publicly-available information about a well-known Fortune 500 company. 

Starting with the annual report and press releases, I discovered that the company’s strategic and marketing focus is “practical innovation.” I decided to look for resources that could be used to launch a private blog network of experts about “innovation” with a central online gathering point where posts could be aggregated, reviewed, commented on and rated by everyone else in the network.  

A little more reading and I discovered that this company has an active “fellows” program that has recognized 30 or individuals for their ability to convert outstanding knowledge and expertise into business solutions for the company and its clients. There’s my first 30 bloggers.

Next I found that company X was involved in an innovation alliance with nine other large and famous companies.  Bring in the 50-60 individuals who are responsible for sharing information with each other in this alliance and you’ve got a network of about 100 people before you start.  Because they all have a vested interest in making the network a success, it will be.

That’s a fairly simple example created from easily accessed information but the point is:  You don’t have to create a working and useful enterprise social network from scratch.  The elements you need are there already; you just need someone to find them.