There is an interesting article in the New York Times about one of the “hot new jobs” – the social media specialist. Social media, emerging media, interactive media or online communication is becoming more and more mainstream. Communication has changed and organizations that want to engage with their stakeholders and community need to understand that and include social media in their strategic planning.
One of the key points that isn’t included in this article is where the social media specialist “lives” in an organization. Is he/she in the communications department, marketing, or sales? And how is social media being integrated throughout the organization? Is it being done in isolation, as an add-on, or “over there” kind of approach?
One of the challenges that come with the emergence of social media is that often communicators are asked to develop a “social media strategy.” What does that mean? Years ago, if someone said: “I need a brochure” – we, as communicators would take a step back and ask what the objective was and would work out whether a brochure was the right tool to meet the goal. It is no different now except the tools have changed.
Should your organization be on Twitter? That depends, what is your overall business strategy and communication objective? Should the CEO blog? Perhaps, but take a step back and look at the bigger picture before you allow a tool to drive your strategy.
I think that there are many opportunities to use social media strategically and it is an exciting and interesting time. I also think that there are many organizations that would benefit from taking a step back and reviewing their current communications strategy to see how and where social media tools can be of value.
I am glad to see that social media tools are becoming a part of a communicator’s toolkit– but don’t let the tail wag the dog. Develop your strategy first, then decide on the right tools for the job.