Social Media in Large Organizations & Motherships

Large organizations like universities, hospitals, and major businesses are trudging through how to deal with implementing an effective social media policy. This policy has become more than just how to communicate with a constituency base, but how to manage the many silos within the organization.

Take a hospital for example, especially one that is in a major metropolitan area. They are dealing with major branding, implementation, and a execution strategy. A typical large hospital will have the main branded image with sub brands that represent service lines of their vertical revenue streams. Beyond those service lines, they have departments, doctors offices, and smaller groups that need some treatment with respect to the social media branding guidelines and short/long term execution strategy.

Another issue a large organization deals with the fact there are so many people within these service lines and departments that have taken their own initiative to set-up their own accounts. Since many of these technologies like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Foursquare cost nothing to set-up; “brand ambassadors” take it upon themselves to start connecting. They are the front line touch points for the organization. They understand their community. But how does one “reel all of this in” and make this a manageable process.

Like any marketing group, there is a:

  1. Time to evaluate the organization, the brand, and what is already in place.
  2. Evaluate mission statements and audiences of the organization.
  3. What problem do you want to solve.
  4. How can social media provide a new tool for the tool box and reach/engage a whole new audience in a new way.
  5. Establishing the “mothership” for the organization as a whole and all the other sub-brands within the organization.

We are trying to engage with audiences and provide a clear path for those audiences to receive information about the organization…the “mothership”.

Definition of “Mothership” – An online property where all of the “information” flows to and from the organization, to one stop shop funnel of information. This can be an organization’s main website or can even be an organization’s Facebook page. This is the main communication distribution point where organizations want to drive audiences back to receive “the message.”

Along with creating an effective social media strategy, there needs to be a new media strategy in place. What I mean by this, these large organizations need to have there “mothership” (web presence) positioned so it clearly displays the message and audiences can find information easily. Also, permalinks are crucial so audiences can find information on a defined URL and the social media’s can point back to a specific URL. Most large organizations use video messaging on a regular basis, so a consistent workflow with video email blasts and newsletters need to come into the conversation. Then away from just technology implementation, establishing a team that coordinates marketing efforts so the online presence coordinates with “traditional marketing efforts.”

Implementation of social media accounts for a large organization has to happen in stages and establish a tier system…basically, the brand treatments for each part of the organization.

Tier One – The Over Arching Brand for the organization (hopsital name, university name, company name)
Tier Two – Sub Brands in the organization (service lines, colleges, etc.)
Tier Three – Tertiary Brands (Individuals within the organization)

Here is where you think aesthetically with graphical treatment and naming conventions, creating a since of consistency across the brand organization so that if the audience is connecting with an individual, they would know that they represent the organization. This is where it gets fun, deciding whether individuals within a large organization want to use their name and face to represent the organization. This is part of that strategy conversation. This is both a personal and business conversation to have with people you want to represent the organization.

Honestly…this is only the beginning of a Social Media and Communication Strategy Assessment. Social Media Strategy integration into a large scale organization takes time, patience, and willingness to listen to not only the organization but also the “Brand Ambassadors” of the organization.