Social Media & Supply Chain: Top 5 Tips You Need to Know
October 17, 2014
Alex Short
2 minutes

Using social media to connect and engage with your supply chain is a daunting task for many senior executives. For most, this is an entirely new frontier. Here are my top five tips that you need to know before can successfully embark on a successful social media & supply chain programme.

The use of social media within the supply chain is going to become the norm over the next 3-5 years. There is no question about this. But where do you start? I hope this post provides you with some insight into how to get things going.


1) You are not alone: There is no real benchmark or maturity framework for using social media to engage with your supply chain. So if you are looking into this area for the first time you should be aware that you are not alone. The great thing about this is that you do not need to worry about other companies being streaks ahead of you. The downside is that there is no one to really copy.


2) Be focused: To use social media you do not need to invest a huge amount of time or money, but you do need consistency and focus. The first step for getting a supply chain social media program up and running is understanding which networks your supply chain are connected to. You may find it is one of your own systems that is shared with your suppliers or that it is an external social network such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Google +. Once you have identified the networks, focus on one to begin with and then set a calendar reminder to look at the other networks in three months time. Unless you have lots of resources, trying to tackle multiple channels or social networks at the start of your social media supply chain program will be a big ask. My advice is to keep it simple.


3) Define your brand: Before you start connecting and engaging with your supply chain via social media, it is important that you define your brand as a buying organization. What does your company stand for and how does this cascade into how you and your team communicate with your supply chain? Successful social media programs will always have a clear understanding of what the brand stands for and will also have a consistent tone throughout. It is worth workshoping this with members of your team before you kick off your program. Take a look at the customer of choice article I posted on Unilever’s approach to their customer of choice branding for inspiration.


4) What do you want to achieve?: Now that you have identified the systems or social networks that you are looking to focus on, and your branding is defined, it is time to write down what you want to achieve. Again, my advice would be to keep it simple. For example, if you decide to use Twitter as the platform for your supply chain social media program, you should decide how many followers you want to get and how many followers you can achieve from known suppliers.


5) Who will lead the program: It is important to have someone who is capable leading the social media campaign. I suggest the head of supply chain or procurement would be the best person. As the social media program is focused on the whole of the supply chain, these two senior roles are best placed to lead the program. It can then be spread wider once some traction has been made. This will also test the real support for the social media program. If you cannot get enough buy in from senior staff then the likelihood is that the project will not be supported in the medium or long-term. Having one of these individuals lead the program does not necessarily mean they need to manage its execution, but they should be actively involved throughout.

I hope these five tips are not too basic for you, but I thought it would be worth outlining these fundamental points. Remember, the key is to keep it simple while being consistent and authentic.

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Alex Short is Founder of Old St Labs he is passionate about building the next generation of business software. He is recognised as one of procurements thought leaders.
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