In my role at AHA, I attend conferences, I take online courses, I read blogs and online media, and follow social media and PR visionaries on Twitter and on other social networking sites. I am always learning.
A few years ago, I went through a stage where I felt I had to know all of the social media, social networking, and online tools and technologies to do my job. It became overwhelming and I realized that I started to view each new things as “it.” The old adage that if your only tool is a hammer, you treat everything as if it were a nail is accurate. I think it is important to first understand what the objectives and goals of a plan, initiative, project or campaign are before you decide what tools or tactics you will use.
At AHA, my role is to work with our clients to build a strategic plan and then to identify the right tools and tactics to execute that plan, supporting their overall organizational objectives. Our strong point at AHA is that we approach our work with a focus on the big picture—strategic communications—rather than on any one component of it. Even in developing a smaller campaign, it is crucial to first look at what you want to achieve. Bringing social media into the mix is important. Understanding if social media does fit for your organization, where it might fit, why and how to blend traditional and social media are key components of success.
There are a lot of very smart people who are on the leading edge of social media. They are the early adopters, the visionaries, the people who are ahead of the curve. They have some great information to share, but you need to keep it in context. Before getting caught up in the hype and trying to figure out how to make the next “big” thing work for you, take a step back and clearly identify what you are trying to achieve. The key to success is not how you will achieve it, but rather what you want to achieve and why. Once you are clear on your objectives, then begin looking, without trying to make your goal fit the tool you want to use (that’s pretty human). Find the right way to meet your objectives.
Being at the leading edge of social media isn’t necessarily right for every organization. In fact, while we strongly believe that you need to know what is being said about you online, it may not be strategic for every organization to use social media as a part of their ongoing initiatives. It is important to make sure that whatever your tools, they support your overall objectives and are a part of a comprehensive plan.