I came across a great post by Brian Solis on social media integration. It’s worth a read. (Just about everything Brian writes is worth a read.)
Integrating social media into your communication efforts doesn’t stop when you write a strategic plan. It is an ongoing and evolving effort. We have recently had some interesting conversations with a client that we work with on a project basis. This client is someone that we have a huge amount of respect for and we want to see him succeed. His company is young and growing and he has a strong philanthropic focus. He came to us to help him build a strategic plan that included social media.
Once the plan was developed and approved, we were on deck to assist and support the internal team in implementing the plan. The challenge here is that there was no champion; no one “owned” this – it was everyone’s job. (Which in our world, usually means it becomes no one’s job. If everyone is involved and no one is accountable, it becomes a discussion free for all, usually without action being taken.)
The strategic plan was used for the set up of Twitter, Facebook and a blog. It focused on blending any media relations with blogger relations and social network outreach. Then life got in the way. Internally, things got busy and following the editorial process didn’t happen. Twitter and Facebook updates became random, not part of an overall editorial schedule or approach. News releases went out without being tweeted about, information that could have been provided to media ahead of time went up on Facebook. The retail side of the organization and the corporate side didn’t connect on events and other PR opportunities. The corporate social responsibility and philanthropic initiatives took on a life of their own (not in a good way).
Our client is now looking at the results and trying to understand what happened. A good strategy is only good if the plan is implemented effectively. We’re now working with him again to get things back on track, but more than four months of solid momentum has been lost. The internal team is frustrated with themselves, each other and, today, I would bet with us – for stepping into their territory and working to bring things back to a process of accountability and consistent communications outreach.
For how exciting and alive social media can be, it will die a messy, confused death if you don’t do the day to day things that are, well, a little less sizzle and a little more basic. Creating new content, meeting deadlines, spell checking everything, making sure links work, making sure that when you reach out to connect with stakeholders, that it all works and that you are engaging with them on a regular basis are all extremely important.
Integrating social media into an overall communications plan only works if you develop the strategy, build the plan and then, each day, follow the plan and do the work. Authentic conversations take work, they take attention to detail, they take time and effort. And when you do all the steps and focus on creating content that interests the people you want to speak with, when you consistently deliver what you have promised, you build credibility and you create the kinds of conversations that support your organization. Conversations that connect your target market to you.