The AHA Social Media Strategy – Breathe In, Breathe Out, Carry On

We hear it from clients, colleagues and friends all the time. Keeping up with what is going on in social media is overwhelming. Just recently, Facebook rolled out community pages and began to group people based on likes. They have also stopped supporting Facebook Lite, which appeared to be a Twitter-like approach to Facebook. Ning has announced that it will eliminate the free component of its service…and the list goes on and on. How can anyone keep up not only with the changes, but what they mean to your organization?

At the AHA office, we understand the demands and the challenges of staying current. Our days now start earlier and end later. I know that I spend a fair amount of time checking out information and educating myself on the changes and evolution of the technology so that I can continue to develop relevant strategies and plans for clients. I happen to be interested in this area, so spending a few hours on a Friday evening or Saturday morning doing research doesn’t feel like too much of a hardship for me. But, even with our focus on getting up to speed on what is relevant, what’s new, what is being taken down—we can’t know it all.

This is where we take a step back, breathe in, breathe out and carry on. The fact is, you don’t need to know all of the details of every new technology, networking site or opportunity out there. In fact, sometimes when you are developing a strategy and writing a plan, it is better not to know every detail. It is easy to be influenced by the latest tools and technology and to develop your strategy to suit their use. That’s a trap you don’t want to fall into.

In our approach with clients, we work to define their objectives. Then we need to know the audience or community for the initiative—who do they want to reach? Next, we need to understand what this group wants to hear from the organization. Social media is not just about what you want to tell them, but what kind of conversation they want to have. Then we work to identify what the channels of communication are appropriate for the audience or community. Are they on Facebook, would a blog work, are they on Twitter, is an in-person event supported by social media a better idea…? This is all necessary to understand before we can define a strategy or develop a plan. The next step is to identify the tools and technology that will support the strategy. Once we get to this point, we are focused on a limited number of social media networks or tools that will work best.

I know it feels overwhelming, trying to keep up with everything. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t stay current, but don’t get to the point where you can’t see the forest for the trees. Or should I say the strategy for the tools.

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