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You would think being a corporate program, one that perhaps even reports into the CMO, would in itself ensure broad acceptance and/or adoption of the social media Center of Excellence's programs and policies. Alas, that is rarely the case. 

Driving adoption: what works, what does not

What about instances in which you need to ensure broad adoption? Obviously if there is risk involved, governmental fines or legal implications, you need to drive compliance, usually via management. However, if it’s not life or death, implementation by fiat, even it it’s your organizational right to do so, should never be a first choice.

Despite Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity ("doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"), I've repeatedly seen this proven out. Common 'I’m in charge' methods people believe the Center can rely on:

  • Executive Pressure: Mano-a-mano via memo. Frustrating as it may be, divisional management will almost always side with their own revenue-producing teams, no matter how expert the opposing voice. This type of approach is not completely ineffective – but it's sure to destroy whatever goodwill you have with said group
  • Seek and Destroy: You get one group to comply, only to discover another three groups have gone out of bounds. Creativity appears to bloom in the face of unwelcome rules and pronouncements. As you watch, you’ll find yourself transformed into the ‘Center of Scofflaw Bounty-Hunters.’ Not fun, and worse, not effective.
  • Commandeer: The brute force, your-funds-are-now-ours method. Sounds like a win, but if you need their ongoing support it’s not. The subjugated groups will at best barely comply, which leaves you rowing an awfully big ship all by yourself. It may move in the direction you want it to, but not very far.

Inevitably, people who cling to these tired approaches (you know who you are) declare they work. But in the light of what might have been, they’re abject failures. In the Center’s case, as its success rides on the willingness of other teams to participate, consider yourself cautioned, as it can be hard to recover from such missteps. Yes, you want to ensure everyone knows about your program, but your also want to avoid moving past Irrelevant only to arrive at Despised. This only serves to make what's already hard to achieve nearly impossible.

I’m not suggesting the entire exercise is a popularity contest, but unlike the methods above, a ‘how to win friends and influence others’ type of approach, is at least capable of getting you to your destination.

Read Part 1 of this five-part series: Will social Centers of Excellence succeed?

Next in Part 3: Strategically, what to focus on and where to invest

Photo credit: flickr/dipfan

Pauline Ores

Published 23 September, 2010 by Pauline Ores

Pauline Ores is an Enterprise Market Relationship consultant and a contributor to Econsultancy.

8 more posts from this author

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