Bottom up: an overrated and underperforming social strategy (for lazy people)

Every now and then I catch up with some friends in a pub to talk about social media and what they are up to. And it seems to be that there is quite some confusion about what a bottom up adoption strategy is for social media. To make my point of view clear: a bottom up strategy for social media does not mean that you can sit back and relax watching other people doing your job.

It’s an excuse to not spend time

Bottom up strategy is often used as an excuse to either not spend any budget on adoption of a social media solutions after the implementation, or is used by lazy community managers. Of course, saying that you apply a bottom up strategy in a risk averse organization helps that nobody will be able to blame you. So if you think this is the way a bottom up approach should be, yes then it will be overrated and underperforming. The good thing is that, if you do not succeed, you can blame the users: they should have driven the adoption and they did not try hard enough. You just gave them all the room and opportunity they needed, you cannot be blamed, you did your part of the deal.

Taking the real bottom up approach is often hard work and requires adjustment of plans every now and then. So it will require budget, it will require hard work and yes there are risks, since you allow others to make changes in your plan. When taking the effort to do a real bottom up approach:

  • You may define an integration of the social solution with processes (or even define new processes), however you accept and implement the uses from the users. The users will define their way of working in the end, however they will need help
  • You should help people participating, not by defining the conversation, but by facilitating.
  • Senior management still participates and leads by example? (they will become rolemodels), however they are not dictating the way people should work or have any hierarchical influence on the social platform.
  • You will have to make sure that you have the incentives right, without any incentive people are less likely to invest time to participate and to contribute.

It’s more than letting other people do your job

So if you go for a bottom up strategy, please bear in mind that it is not about letting the users do all the work while you are just sitting in a chair staring at a screen. It is about enabling the users so they can do the things that add value for them. And enabling is an activity, so stop staring and start helping the users to achieve their goals.