What Your Social Media Efforts Desperately Lack #socialmedia

Social Media

In my post this past Thursday, I promised that today I’d show you how my Principles-to-Practices Framework can transform your social media efforts. Ready?

The framework goes like this, from highest-level to most basic: Principles guide Strategy, which guide Tactics, which guide Practices. Principles are incredibly important and probably shouldn’t change at all from your company’s founding until your great grandkids take summer internships, and hopefully beyond. Practices? Change them daily as appropriate, like underwear.

No matter the topic, this framework applies, including your company’s use of social. What does this look like in real life?

The Marketing Department thinks it “owns” social media.

  • Most of their communications are one-way: broadcast. Just like in the old days when we read paper newspapers and billboards
  • The Facebook page announces contests and collects Likes
  • The twitter feed spews out links to said contests, and links to products customers should buy. There’s no conversation going on
  • The Twitter account has 20,000 followers but follows only 15 accounts
  • There are ads on the company’s YouTube channel. Same ones as on TV

The Customer Service Department has a couple of folks there to put out fires. (This alone is way ahead of most companies, even today.)

The HR recruiting team is active on LinkedIn, selling the myth of the company’s “awesome culture” and “great people”.

A few sales pros are trying to make headway via LinkedIn as well, but there’s no training or concerted effort there, nor are there any results to speak of.

Only three executives in your entire company have pictures in their LinkedIn profiles. Your CEO isn’t one of them. Your Chief Engineer is active on Twitter and keeps a blog. He’s had to defend this ongoing “hobby” to your chief legal council several times already.

Does that sound familiar at all? According to the Principles-to-Practices Framework, what we’re looking at is…


The view from very close to the ground – are hit-and-miss at best, but they do exist at your company. The best example is in customer service, where the small social team is active on Twitter and Facebook to handle complaints. That’s a good practice. It isn’t going to transform anyone’s company, but it’s better than nothing, for sure.


The view from the second floor balcony: here, too, there are a few bright spots. It’s nice to see HR trying to recruit where potential candidates choose to spend their time. The cheesy canned messaging is unfortunate, though. Marketing has quite a few active tactics going: drumming up interest on a couple of social channels, for instance. That too is a good start, anyway.

Overall, this company – like so many more out there – is really weak even at this basic level of social media planning and execution.


I think you can agree, “Get on social and do something” is no strategy. This company has no social strategy at all.

A good, safe strategy for a beginner like this might be to establish a blog network from among the company’s experts and guests invited in from the outside, experts who will add valuable insight and drive traffic, both. I often use SAP as an example of a company that is really doing this well. It provides a lot of value to potential customers, who might just say, “Oh, look at that link over there. I didn’t know SAP did that. Let me check it out.” Nice soft sales strategy, versus pushy and obnoxious.

The company should have several complementary social strategies engaged at once.

  • Marketing could work with R&D for the blog effort
  • Sales could really put together an outstanding prospecting effort by training its people in the use of social to represent the company and provide outsiders with value first, which could lead to sales
  • HR’s social media strategy could be to join learning communities, and even (bolstering marketing and PR’s efforts), the HR leaders could build brand awareness and respect for the firm this way

Now, How About Principles?

That to me is the sweet spot of any business discussion. How would a company’s principles fit in with a social media strategy? Better yet, how would those principles inform that strategy and cascade down into tactics and practices?

That is a post of another time, but let me leave you with a spoiler alert, from the book Mark Babbitt and I are writing right now, How Business Is Done In A World Gone Social. It’s a line we use a lot as we discuss the book and the principles behind it:

“Open Media, Open Culture”

Simply put, social media are open media: communication is two-way, democratic, and “open” by its very nature. If your corporate culture engages in one-way communication (command and obey), is class-driven and hierarchical, and “closed”… well, social is never going to be a very comfortable fit.

I’ve already said too much… today. Stick around. Knowing me, I’ll scoop our book again a time or two before we publish next spring.

Final note: Jamie Notter, co-author of Humanize and member of our League of Extraordinary Thinkers, wrote a really insightful post that has stuck with us as we repeat our mantra of “Open media, open culture.”

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

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  • Patricia Sadar

    Dear Ted,
    Thank you for sharing this with us. I am looking forward to purchasing your book. Please let us know when it coming.
    Thank you,

  • Maria Garcia

    Hi Ted, nice post! Love it, please let us know when your next book will be available, I will try to promote it here in Key West! Take care Maria Garcia

  • Nydia Danas

    Hi Ted,

    Love your post. I’m getting lots of wisdom from them. Looking forward to your book release. Best of luck!


  • A very insightful post indeed. I am also beginning with blog for my organization’s social media promotion. But my question is: when do you reckon is the time when I should invite guest blogs? Is it when the readership cross a certain threshold or I could start inviting guest blog at the beginning itself?

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