How to Develop a Strategic Social Media Program for Business

August 2, 2010

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Social media for fun does not require planning. You go with your guts and emotion and start joining places where it feels right for you. However, social media for business is at the other extreme, and to succeed there is a real need for proper planning before the execution.


Starting with a Strong Purpose

0.Know your purpose. Like any good corporate program or initiative, a strong purpose and a good set of objectives is important. This set of purpose and objectives has to be relevant and aligned to your other corporate objectives.

0.Know the limitations. It is important to know that not all objectives or purpose can be served by social media and it would be foolish to assume so, just because everybody is in social media. Social media is effective not only in PR, marketing and brand building but it is also effective when use for innovation crowd-sourcing, building corporate culture and market engagements.

Knowing Your Social Media Landscape

0.Know the landscape. Before engaging social media for business purposes, it is important that the people involved in the social media initiative have a clear understanding of the attributes of the field they will be playing in. Know the landscape before you start constructing. The social media landscape generally consists of the following attributes that should always be in the mind of social media strategist or planning team:

0.Community-driven where people not only listen or view ads and news but they participate in this new media.

0.Conversation is the new content king aside from videos and images. As David Armano said “It’s the conversation economy”.

0.It’s viral where people spread, shared and transmit content readily. That’s what makes social media contagious.

0.Personal spaces are even more pronounced, if you got no permission don’t enter. Nobody wants to be spammed or get ads-bombed.

0.Authenticity is what makes social media real and human. Don’t bother with high cost production houses; real is soul here.

0.Build relationships. At the end of the day, these attributes are what builds relationships among friends. Get acquainted with people who were previously a stranger to you. These attributes build a strong fan base for your brands and business. Small businesses and unknown musicians become famous because of them too.

Build A Road – The 4Es of Social Media

0.Build a road. After you have understood what social media landscape attributes are, you will need to build a road before you can travel to your destination. The road here is acquainted to the 4 primary social media strategies that your company can deploy in your social media initiatives. These are the 4Es of social media:

0.Education Strategy – Enriching your target community’s knowledge with information and resources for them to better understand you.

0.Entertainment Strategy – You create fun, sticky and memorable content that allows them to associate the image or message to your brand or business.

0.Engagement Strategy – Your purpose is to engage the community by recognizing their presence, contributions and inputs.

0.Empowerment Strategy – A space and role is created and provided to your target community to play an active role in what you are doing.

0.Tailor to your size. If your company is large enough, you can opt to deploy all at the same time (hey! you got a super highway) but if your company is small choosing the most relevant and effective route will be your best investment and keeps your resources focus.

Build, Hire but Don’t Steal A Vehicle

0.Build slowly. You need a set of wheels to move forward. Once the road is ready, in order for you to move forward you will need a set of wheels. Depending on the size of your company, it would mean a bicycle, tricycle, motorcycle, car, F1 sports car etc. The set of wheels here that we refer to are the social media tools and widgets that you will need to decide on what to use, how they can work together and when to use it. There are thousands of them around and there are few that are most popular like Hubpages here. In general the sets of social media tools can be divided into 4 major categories:

0.Networking tools – blogs, microblogs, social networks, etc.

0.Collaboration tools – wikis, social news, social bookmarking, etc.

0.Multimedia tools – videos, images, interactive contents, etc.

0.Entertainment tools – virtual worlds, online gaming, etc.

0.Select according to need. Selecting the right combination of tools is important and helps you build expertise on this tools over time, because frankly you don;t want to be managing 20 social networking sites at one go.

Guide Your Journey

0.Set up road signs. Whenever anyone goes on a long journey or to unfamiliar places, one of the most important thing to have when he/she is travelling is to be able to refer to the roadsigns on the side of the road. It tells you your destination, the dangers, and other necessary information to make sure you don’t get lost or end up in a road that has no gas/petrol station. The same logic applies to social media. It is important that your social media initiative has a good set of metric or measurements that will tell how you are doing at any one time. Nathan Gilliatt of Social Target LLC categorizes measurements into 4 distinct types: 

0.PR/media measurement – Viewing social media as media for their ability to reach an audience.

0.Word of mouth measurement – Viewing social media as online interactions among people.

0.Web analytics – Interested in people’s usage patterns, as both audience and customers.

0.Opinion research – Mining online opinions as the world’s largest focus group.

0.Translate into equity. All these are important to consider but even more important to actually measure is to be able to translate the measurement information above into what we called the “Social Media Equity”, a set of fundamentals that are important for companies to make decisions about their social media investments.

0.Strength of relationship (size, quality, relevance of type of activities etc)

0.Degree of familiarity (with your business, brands etc, not just awareness)

0.Degree of efficiency (where and how efficient is your viral logistics)

0.Value creation (are there any?)

0.Be aware that measurement via loyalty is but one aspect. Loyalty without social media equity nailed down, it is hard to say whether your investment in social media has actually work or not. This is because having 100,000 readers in your blog only says so much as 100,000 eyeballs of awareness but is this sufficient as a measure for performance?

Don’t Forget the Fuel

0.Get going. So you understood the terrain, you got yourself a road/highway, bought your wheels, set up the roadsigns, so let’s move it. Hold on a sec! Have you fueled? Fueling your social media initiative is no small task because when your company wants to take social media seriously, you got to really invest in:

0.Time – yes, time to know how to use the widgets, set up your blog, create content, filter content, participate in conversations, spread your virus.

0.Fresh Content – needs to be cooked up periodically whether it is from your company or from other sources. Social media is not a corporate website where you can stick up one article and let it stay there for time immemorial.

0.Dedicated Team – yes, social media is no part time job for your HR manager, corp comm or PR or marketing team. If your guy has a business card that reads:

0.Mr So and So Sales, Marketing and Social Media Manager; your fuel is going to run low real soon.

0.Creative Juices – to create value relevant content and conversations. Creative here does not necessary equate to fantastic designs but to content and conversations that delivered in ways that are of use. If you can put aesthetic make-up to that, this is even better.

0.Good Design – because nobody wants to stick around a 1.0 design site and initiative.

0.Widget Familiar – This is given. Anybody that wants to be in social media has to get themselves familiar with at least 10 to 30 different widgets and how they work and inter-work with each other.

0.Get involved; be active in getting it moving. If your plan is to ask your IT department to hook it up for you via a memo or official request and then put that task to a queue of other stuff that the IT department has to attend to; that is really not going to work.

The Take Back

0.Always be aware that there is nothing to lose when social media is done for the fun, but in business a lot is at stake and you certainly don’t want your company, brand or initiative falling short.


0.Start with a purpose

0.Know your social media landscape

0.Build the road

0.Get yourself a set of wheels

0.Put up road signs to guide your journey

0.Don’t forget to fuel


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