7 Habits of Highly Effective Social Envoys

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Not that long ago Seattle Social Media Club was graced by the presence of David Armano, SVP at Edelman Digital. He talked a bit about the different tasks of community management. (Read the full recap of his talk here.) One of these tasks was something we all do a lot of, but quite honestly I had never heard named before. He spoke about being an “Envoy” for your brand. Brands set up their embassy’s, or outposts, on a variety of social networks and staff their representatives there accordingly. There are times though when representatives from a brand must venture out into the wilderness and address issues, get involved and in general spread awesome. When doing this, according to David’s words, they are acting as an envoy. I got to thinking about what it is to be a good envoy for a brand. I have been acting as an envoy for my brand for years now and teaching my clients how to do the same. There are some characteristics that need to be fostered in the individual filling this role that are universal regardless of the brand, industry or field.

1. Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness and sensitivity is important when it comes to dealing with individuals from different parts of the world. An important point of order is that it can be just as important when dealing with individuals on different sites and social networks. Only, in this case we’re dealing with the cultural norms of the platform and community. Being sensitive to the norms and standards of behavior for that part of the world web will help to ensure that when you do reach out to get involved that you’ll be accepted and welcomed.

2. Vigilence

It is difficult to catch everything that happens on the web around your brand name. Especially if you are a one person team. But dammit, you have to try. Keeping an eye out on all of the tools you are using on a regular basis for opportunities to intervene and help improve the users experience with their brand is an on going, never ending effort. Being vigilant in your watch will help you take advantage of these open doors. You’ll be surprised by what a simple response can do!

3. Sensitivity

Any time you are intervening or stepping in you have to have a bit of sensitivity for the users experience. If you are jumping in to a thread where there have been problems with your product or service you need to be empathetic to their situation. If you are jumping in to a violent or volatile situation sensitivity is even more critical. These types of situations can explode in a quite nasty fashion fast.

4. Judgement

You’re often walking into unknown situations as an envoy. You’re coming across all different types of people in all different types of moods and you need to decide how you are going to respond. Depending on the platform you may have very little time to make this determination as well. You need to be able to make judgement calls on your reaction and tactics for intervention on the fly and in your brands best interest.

5. Patience

Yep. As with the rest of life, patience is in fact a virtue. Trolls will get your goat if you let them. So practice your patience. It can be hard when you’ve got the public outcry on one hand, and your company’s need for time, or security on the other to maintain your sanity. Fostering an attitude of patience will go a long way to keeping you sane and employed!

6. Analytical/Reporting Skills

There’s nothing more irritating or unhelpful than saying to someone “Yeah, I mean, I hear people say that about our product all the time….” and then when asked for qualitative back up, to then provide a “….well, I mean….at least a couple…”. If you’re going to be a good steward of your customers best interest then you need to be able to make a business case for their opinions. This means tracking and analytics for their input. Being able to accurately collect social market data and infer meaning will be critical to your representation of their input to your organization.

7. Organization

Being in eleventy billion places at once is sure to leave the most Type-A among us feeling a little discombobulated. The only way to maintain sanity and to keep on top of it all is to stay organized. There are lots of contact management systems out there. My personal favorites are Excel (call me old fashioned) and Buzz Stream. Choose whatever system works for you. If it isn’t a fit you won’t use it so be deliberate. You’ll need to find ways to keep track of the rest of your work as well. Track it all. Document, document, document. Eventually you will lose your place and that bit of “cya” will help to get you back on track ASAP. —- Now go forth and spread awesome. Keep in mind as you travel around the web acting on behalf of your brand that you are acting as an envoy and what an important job that is!]]>

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