Monday, August 12, 2013

Liftoff Tips for a Social Media Program

I frequently talk to customers, both internal and external, about how to get started with social media. These three things always come up in these conversations. There are a hundred other details that people talk about (need for a policy, how to measure effectiveness, how to get 1M followers, etc). These three things will make your life easier before you launch the effort (or try to gain approval for it.)

Know what you are trying to accomplish. 
When I ask customers why they want to accomplish with a social media presence, I get a wide range of answers. On the "not so good" end of the scale are the following responses:
"I have an intern that needs something to do"
"Everyone is doing it"
"It's cool"
"Aren't we supposed to?"

This is part of the problem with the consumerization of Social Media. What employees may impulsively adopt in their personal lives is automagically mapped into the business life. It isn't quite that simple. The two axioms of "Begin with the end in mind" and "Know what success looks like" are great advice here. Ask the question "What are you trying to accomplish with social media", and think in terms of  specifics. How many new customers, what information are you going to provide, how is it going to help people. Make sure what you want to accomplish lines up with the goals of the organization! This is the key!

It is more work than you think it is. 
So how much can it be to write a 140 character missive once or twice a day? The answer is simple: lots. For people who have not defined what success looks like (see above), perhaps a cat video or so every other day will fit the bill. If you know what you want to accomplish, chances are using social media will be quite a bit of work. It opens a new customer relationship management channel that you will not be able to ignore. Consider finding software to help organize your various feeds and the release of the information. is my preferred web tool for this, and Plume is my preferred smartphone application. Perhaps the use of the new social media channel will offset manpower used in some other area of the business. The social media channels require near-constant monitoring, but there are tools to help with that.

Resistance is not futile.... 
People will resist this. This may shock you, but not all people like stuff that is new and helpful and created during this century.This is perhaps the hardest part of getting a social media program off the ground. It can also be titled "Don't Underestimate Digital Immigrants and Attorneys". There will always be people in power that do not agree with approaching problems in new ways, with new tools. And there will always be people (like you and me) that stretch the envelope a bit. No matter the motivation for the resistance, you will have to deal with this. Consider a few strategies for getting by this:

  • Involve Them - Somehow make them feel a sense of ownership in the effort, solve a problem for them, give them the credit. Make sure they know the effort won't be successful without them, make them feel important. 
  • Do a Pilot - Start small, and very very focused to get a pilot off the ground. Prove success with it, and move on to the next larger social media effort. 
  • Business Case - All businesses have problems they are trying to overcome. Illustrate, in business terms, how the social media program will help the business achieve it's goals, what the costs will be, what risks will be mitigated, and the outcomes expected. 

So, think before you attempt to launch a social media program and be prepared. The first social media program of an organization is the hardest to get off the ground and it is worthy of extra care to get it right. Spend the time and effort up front or you may have a failure to launch!

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