Describing concepts in three parts is a popular and effective communication tool. A term like social media can mean different things in different environments, so breaking it down into three steps is a good idea.
Last week Government Computer News ran an interesting story quoting Mark Drapeau, a well known authority on Government 2.0 now working for Microsoft. (His Posterous blog is a good read) Mark calls Phase One surprise, government officials discovering social media was relevant. Maybe you could also call that education.
The second phase is experimentation, setting up things like Facebook and Twitter accounts and using them to connect with audiences. The third phase Mark thinks government is now entering is the solution phase, with government agencies looking to solve specific problems with social media tools.
The terminology is different, but these phases reminded me of an excellent post by my partner Marc Hausman from April 2009. Marc described what we were seeing at the time as our b2b and b2g clients were moving to social media execution. The first step was Pockets of Innovation — usually there was a champion inside the client willing to experiment on a project basis.
The second Mark called Bridging to Pervasive, in which success on a project basis leads to greater adoption across business lines. The final stage is the Last Mile, in which the successful socmed tactics are tied directly to measurable business objectives — deal capture, lead gen, superior customer service, etc. This is the most difficult phase but also the one that justifies the budget spend.
Different description and terms, but I think the Marc/k(s) are describing the same evolution. An organization tries new socmed tools, sees that they work and then attacks specific problems in a new way. This last phase is the toughest phase by far, but the results can be powerful and exciting.
A good example of using social media to support business objectives is GovWin. GovWin is the community for government contractors just re-launched by Deltek, a Strategic client. The objective of the community isn’t simply conversation or sharing best practices. Participants look for contract partners, pool and share staffing resources, and collaborate to better service government contracts.
All this goes on transparently, online. It’s a different mindset and a different approach that is better for the government, and better for participating contractors.
Think of it as eHarmony for government contractors. Here’s a link to a good Federal News Radio interview with GovWin’s Jeff White, moderated by Chris Dorobek.
What stage of social media evolution is your organization going through? You should be getting through your experimentation phase — it’s time to get down to business.
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