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Goldilocks and the three arghs (of social media engagement)

You may be an official or unofficial ‘brand ambassador’ for all things social media in your organisation. Maybe it’s even in your job title. But how do you formalise social media within the company without it becoming oxymoronic? And how do you get more people involved?

Social media often works best when lots of people explicitly speak on behalf of the brand. But there must be some sort of cohesion. For Telstra Australia, the three Rs, representation, responsibility and respect, have been central to the company’s social media philosophy.

Mike Hickinbotham, Telstra’s senior advisor on social media, took a lead role in the establishment of the three Rs and this move was central to setting up Telstra’s cross corporate community 2.0 structure.

At a large corporate like Telstra, spreading the social media gospel across the different areas of the business was no mean feat and it required significant planning. At the same time, social media is all about freedom of speech. After all, everyone’s a content creator these days. But there must be some sort of structure and going public with a social media guide is a great way to make this happen as it allows everyone to see what the senior management at the company think about Social Media policy.

This is what Telstra did with the creation of the three R’s. The document was made available on the company’s website (check it out here) and it was a move that got positive coverage on the world’s most popular social media news website Mashable.
In addition to working on the three R’s, Mike has taken a lead in establishing and expanding Telstra’s efforts to provide pro-active customer support on Twitter. Telstra has two accounts: one that supports ISP customers (@BigPondTeam) and one supporting telco customers (@Telstra). He is also an avid tweeter on his personal account: @ M_Hickinbotham. He is also a big advocate of free blogging platforms like Posterous, where he broadcasts his own personal ramblings, discussions and ideas on how new media and the internet are evolving.

Hickinbotham will be speaking at the upcoming Social Media Junction conference, on 17 May at SkyCity, telling the Telstra story and what they have learnt from the mistakes and successes along the way. In particular, he will be looking at how to take information extracted from social media back to the business objectives and will also discuss how you can change the mindsets of the entire organisation by providing the right platform and tools.

A host of brands are attempting to get ‘fans’ or ‘brand ambassadors’ at the moment, but there isn’t much focus on taking that approach across the internal staff. But when employees become ambassadors, Hickinbotham says it isn’t too long before customers and potential customers take on the mantle and start extolling the virtues of your company.

To register for Social Media Junction, go to www.socialmediajunction.co.nz.

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