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Have you ever heard the expression “you’re only as strong as your friends?”  No where is this more true than with digital marketing, and particularly with Social Media.

Too achieve a particular objective, organizations will often invest in a focused campaign.  It has a beginning, middle, and end.  Its results can be measured.  And when the results come back, it will either be a success, or it will not.  Sadly, the question of could the campaign have done better rarely get asked.  Even more rarely asked is should we have invested somewhere completely different?

There is one group that is often taken for granted: external partners.  This can be members, volunteers, suppliers, media, or any other stakeholder outside of the organization.  Strangely, these groups are all assumed to be expertly capable with Social Media (and computers generally), completely up-to-date with your messages, and perfectly aware of their key role in helping move common goals forward.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Many are too busy with their own problems to be concerned with yours.  And if they do have some degree of Social Media knowledge, it is likely focused on achieving their goals – not yours.

Building downstream capacity means helping external partners/stakeholders be more effective using Social Media to achieve their objectives.  When you do so, they will be equipped – and more open – to using Social Media to help you achieve yours.  And unlike campaigns, the return on this investment is cumulative: as they become more fluent with Social Media, and become more comfortable with your organization, they will become ever-stronger advocates and ambassadors.

Example ideas to improve downstream capacity:

  • Keynote presentation at a conference on how they can use Social Media to achieve their objectives.
  • Newsletter or Magazine article on the subject.
  • Development of a no-cost Social Media resource toolkit that shares ideas on the subject
  • Webinars on the subject
  • Half-day seminars on the subject
  • Tweet-chats on the subject
  • Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc) discussions on the subject.
  • Newsletters and blasts celebrating successes
  • Gamification: leaderboards and other mechanisms to encourage/identify/reward participation

This week’s action plan:  Before building downstream capacity, or even thinking about it, reach out to your primary external partner (members, agents, clients, etc) and ask them what they might want.

Marketing Insight:  Sometimes an argument is made that it isn’t “the role of the organization” to build capacity externally.  We disagree fundamentally with this, as building downstream capacity amplifies the effective execution of all of the organization’s Social Media initiatives.  And even if the argument were true, building downstream capacity is still the responsibility of the organization for one simple reason:  risk mitigation.  Embedded within the How to messaging is equally powerful Don’t do’s.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


A Lifetime Return on Investment

by Randall Craig on February 7, 2006

Filed in: Blog, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet,

Tagged as: , ,

Recently I was a speaker at an international gathering of HR professionals. For three days, participants walked through the trade show, sat in conference rooms learning new ideas, and met other folks in the business.

The wonderful thing about all this education and training is that once you learn something, the knowledge is yours forever. It can be used to get that promotion, serve your customers better, or win that big deal. More importantly, it can keep you intellectually sharp – a key skill in today’s workplace.

Often, however, we don’t take personal responsibility for our professional growth.

For example, what workplace training have you attended over the last year? Are you working towards a recognized certification? And what non-work seminars have you attended recently? Many people are a bit embarrassed by how little learning they do once they’ve left “school”.

We delegate the responsibility to our employers, on the assumption that they will “remember” the importance of it to us. Of course, the best organizations DO remember, and invest heavily in their staff – but even in this case, it is our responsibility to plan (and advocate) for our ongoing professional development.

This week’s action item: Set training and educational goals for yourself. It can be as informal as reading a trade magazine each month, or as formal as registering for a professional certification. Remember that an investment in education will yield a lifetime return on investment – and the sooner the investment is made, the bigger the return. The 3000 attendees at this conference recognized it – and so can you.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and development  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders