Recently, I have had several conversations with potential clients about social media. Interestingly enough, they all wanted to discuss how to begin to engage in social media as a part of their overarching communications strategy. Each person I spoke with is in a senior position at a reasonably high profile organization. Yet, each one of them told me that they felt lost or overwhelmed (or both) about how social media fits into their overall strategy. And they didn’t know what to do about it.
This is far more common than many people realize. Not everyone understands social media or knows how it should fit (or not fit) into their communications plan. And it can be challenging to voice that, in this day and age, when we assume that everyone is completely immersed and knows a lot about social media. The fact is, many people are still finding their way. And that’s okay; you are not alone.
One of the challenges is that technology continues to change at a rapid pace, and identifying which social media networks are right for your organization or brand takes some effort. Not everyone can keep up with all of the different tools and technologies available – and knowing what to use is only part of the equation.
Below are several high-level questions you should ask yourself before your organization steps into social media.
- Why would you use social media to engage your stakeholders?
- Is it right for your stakeholders?
- Are they participating on specific social networking sites?
- What is your objective?
- What do you want to achieve?
- Who do you want to connect with and why?
- What are your opportunities and what are your risks?
Once these questions are answered, then you can shift into the more tactical details. Some examples are:
- What social media platforms are we going to use?
- What department is charged with developing the content?
- What is the process if there is an issue or crisis on social media networks?
- How often will your organization post to each social media platform?
- How quickly will you respond to social media queries?
We often work with clients to identify their objectives, relative to their overarching marketing and communications strategy, and then help them to build a plan that includes social media. There are times when a client comes to us and we advise them to monitor social media, but not engage – it depends on the organization, their brand, their objectives and the stakeholder groups. Active social media participation isn’t for every organization and that is a key element in defining a strategic approach to communication.