What does it take to create an internal Army of front-line ambassadors, evangelists and activists for your organisation?

Why an Army?

Armies are diligent and focused in the way they approach their challenge. They benefit from the latest training and perform best when they have a deep appreciation for what they are fighting for.

Building your social army requires the same level of professionalism.

The worse case scenario is a maverick rabble of social renegades, all doing their own thing, without the training and support from the command centre.

As more and more companies embrace the ‘Race to socialisation’, having a workforce that is motivated, tuned in and participating across social platforms can give you a real competitive edge.

Where do you start?

Well it sounds blindingly obvious, but you need to know where you are heading.

What I mean by this is having a strategic understanding of the impact and hard metrics you would like to quantify against the resource investment in creating your social army.

First off, let’s isolate 3 key groups we need to influence and then lets look at the motivations that could win them over.

1: Senior Execs (Generals)     2: Social newbie’s (Infantry)     3: Digital evangelists (Commanders)

Senior Execs (Generals)

The senior exec team (who get it) but haven’t got the time or the desire to really embrace it.

n order to create meaningful change, senior management have to become advocates and evangelist. This is your biggest challenge.

There are two strategies here to think about; Personal branding and Handholding.

Why Personal Branding? Firstly, don’t pitch this as “Heh Boss, I need you to get behind this social media stuff”. Make the pitch to your management team at a more personal level.

1: Make the pitch about ‘Personal branding’ not just social media.
2: Tell them that their peers in other companies are re-inventing and embracing the social changes and creating valuable digital profiles that are winning them business.
3: Use some examples of competitors who are doing it well.

The real motivator here is ‘fear of getting left behind’ being rendered obsolete just as they see their careers in turbo mode.

Handholding: Secondly, don’t take no for an answer. Create an internal resource that allows key execs to cherry pick from a social media bucket of options.

1. Set them up a twitter account
2. Offer to ghost tweet on their behalf
3. Give them a 1 hour tutorial on using LinkedIn more effectively
4. Offer to ghost write, short 500 word Blog articles on subjects close to their heart
5. Identify 3 of their peers in competitive companies and use them as a benchmark
6. Report back to them with a weekly update on their Klout score, re-tweets, blog views etc

The objective is simply to get them over their fear and inertia. In most cases, bright execs will start to show an interest once the fear of the unknown is past.

Get this group up and running and you will have your Generals to lead the army.

Social Newbies (Infantry)

The social newbie’s (Infantry) are the one’s who require the most amount of support and motivation. You need to open their eyes as to why becoming more social is a good thing for their career as well as the company. They will be a mix of cynics, sceptics and advocates.

Getting an insight into their fears and expectations as well as developing a simple rewards system to motivate them can be all it takes.

1. Do some simple research on people’s attitudes towards social media
2. Create simple self-learning training modules
3. Involve them in internal crowd sourcing initiatives
4. Have a friendly and down-to-earth social media policy
5. Develop your own company Klout score tool to help measure everybody’s progress

Build slowly, keep it simple. This is not an exercise in clogging up the social web with more rubbish content and spam, but about educating your internal audience to add value to their role within your organisation.

Every great army has a tenacious and fearful front line.

Digital Evangelists (Commanders)

The final group is the existing digital/social evangelists (Commanders) scattered across your business. These are the ones who need real guidance from the command centre. They are seasoned operators who know the social landscape inside out, but they are probably lacking motivation and direction from you.

1. Identify them. Win their trust. Develop a one-to-one relationship with them.
2. Use their knowledge to navigate the road ahead. Create a programme that allows them to have a voice.
3. Get them to ‘buddy up’ with your senior exec team.

Every army relies heavily on the experience of its commanders. These are your Generals of the future.

All of the above requires discipline and dedication. The mantra, ‘You get out what you put in” applies more than ever with creating a social culture. Good luck.