The Dot.2.Dot of Social Media Engagement

You know the drill.

Find an outline you recognise, join the dots, and, Hey Presto, a picture appears out of the ether.

You know what I am going to say: This is how Social Media is currently being addressed.

But is it?

My sense is that the principal driver is the platform (or technology): “We are now on [social media platform X]”, and the hope is that out of engagement will emerge the expected results.

IT WON’T.

It is essential for firms to:

  1. Consider the organisational framework for the use and uptake of social media. It is likely to be premised on the Top Down, command and control structure but does that maximise the opportunities and minimise the risk?
  2. The validity of the HR policy when set against the business development or communications imperative.
  3. The IT policy, particularly as regards the current lock-down policy.
  4. How each team or business unit will use and share best practice. There is no point one team going off full steam ahead and not sharing their intelligence.
  5. The firm’s business plans and budgets. In particular will there be a switch out of the outbound marketing budget to allow for social media uptake? Not all the platforms are free, LinkedIn being a good example where you may have to pay for a few premium accounts.
  6. Establish the goals from the off. This just doesn’t cover the number of followers, connections or contacts but should include the number of referrals, new instructions and revenue. If you get into this level of detail it will start to feel much more real than to talk about concepts like brand awareness.
  7. As part of the goal setting exercise, you need to work out how much time, across the board and with each person, you are going to permit. Also, how many platforms will be permitted, how many status updates, Tweets sent, will you allow social bookmarking and how often will a blog be updated.
  8. You would be well advised to undertake a detailed competitor analysis. You will be amazed how much you will learn. Do they have the right plug-ins on their website? Do they have a blog? Do they use video? Do they offer on-line services? The more time you spend at this stage the better it will be later on. This is an exercise that you need to undertake every 6-8 weeks to make sure you are not being left behind.
  9. You need to establish a content strategy. This needs to be considered alongside the type of community that you are trying to build. You need to be thinking not just about your raving fans but also those people who might be doing a search of the Web. Why will they chose to contact you over your competitor? Will you rely on text, video and PDFs?
  10. How will your email marketing be utilised? Have you considered including a share button or ReTweet button?
  11. As to the technology, you need to remember that even sites as large as Facebook could change and if you have based all your efforts around one platform have you considered what might happen if it was to be brought down or changed its model of operation? In other words you need to be careful about putting all your eggs in one basket.
  12. Don’t forget the analytics. You need to understand what you are trying to measure and how you will do that.
  13. Training is key. Social Media doesn’t stand still.
  14. Finally, keep the whole thing under review and be prepared to justify the ROI at the drop of a hat.

This list is by no means complete but it gives you an idea of the frame of reference. Right now you may be better looking at your website and checking your Google rankings to make sure you have done some of the SEO basics like claiming Google Places, getting some reviews and video uploaded. That is before you start looking a keywords and heading tags.

The dots are out there. The challenge – make sure you find right ones and they make sense once you have joined them together.

~ JS ~

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