5 Ways to Start Out on the Right Foot with Your Social Media Program
Last week I wrote about what I learned from talking to 25 companies on how social media was being used by them individually, as well as how they used it to enhance their business alliances and partnerships. Mostly I discussed the partnering aspects.
I thought that this week I would back up a little and discuss 5 points to consider when building out a social media program for your business.
First, with any business initiative, start with a vision, plan, and mission. Sounds like a lot, but this could be a few paragraphs or one-pager. You already have a business plan (I assume), so this is just meant to complement it Not complicate it. Try to answer – “What is my prime purpose in using social media?” Influence customers to buy, provide better customer service and experience, build a new lead channel, etc. Then build your one-pager. Your prime purpose may change or expand in a year, so understand that this is dynamic.
Second, if you’re not top management, then the above will not be very credible until the owners or senior management buy into it. Social media has the ability to touch and influence almost every area of your business operation, as sales, marketing, HR will all be affected by your strategy. You will need multiple layers of support to get this started – but not necessarily everyone.
Third, think about how your vision will be turned into policy and action. You will need to establish some policies and guidelines about what’s inbounds and what’s out of bounds in your social media strategy. For instance, what guidelines do you need to establish around talking about new products or internal affairs or finances. These are important areas that can affect you legally, financially, and in your ability to compete.
Fourth, can you track who’s saying or writing what? And what help or guidance are you providing them? What tools, training and programs might help them help your customers or clients better, or do their job better? There’s a lot of territory to cover on this fourth bullet and my next blog will talk about how to help you get connected to the right resources.
Fifth, and this is the one I like least, but is necessary. What are the consequences for breaking policy? Even in LinkedIn, some groups have policies that do not allow links in their discussions. Most groups don’t, but those that do will or can expel you from the group. LinkedIn itself has certain policies that will be cause for your expulsion. If you plan to have consequences, then make sure they’re communicated well and backed up with adequate training. This topic alone is worthy of another blog and I would appreciate other thoughts on the subject.
As examples of how to get started or just start your thinking along these lines, take a look at IBM’s guidelines. Or check out Sun Microsystem’s guidelines – one of my former employers – where the CEO has (or had) a highly readable and followable blog. Since Sun is in the midst of being purchased by Oracle, I’m not sure where his future writings will go, but it might be worthy to check out his past material at http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/ as an example of an executive communication blog.
Look forward to your comments and thoughts.