David Weinfeld

Exploring the Convergence of Media and Technology

Plan (and Plan Some More) Before Entering the Social Media Arena

Social Media is the buzz word of the moment. It is on the tip of the tongues of brand managers, CMOs, corporate strategists, small business owners, and every one in between. If you don’t have a blog, the answer is to start one. If you’re not on Twitter, then you have to begin tweeting as soon as possible. And, if you’re not on Facebook, you better set up a profile, fan, and group page before you take your next breath.

While this might sound extreme, these are just some of the recommendations that are spreading across the Web. At its core, however, this advice is flawed. Blogging is a great way to connect with customers and prospects. It is a strong platform from which to showcase one’s knowledge and build industry caché. It’s not an end all and be all of one’s communication strategy. A blog isn’t something that should be entered into without in depth planning and direction. The plan is more important than the tool. Without a well-constructed social media strategy, any effort a business makes is more noise than anything else.

Many companies should be blogging, tweeting, and taking an an active role in the social media ecosystem. Doing so brings countless opportunities to life, from engaging new customers to increasing the strength of one’s brand. But these efforts shouldn’t be kick started until they have been fully mapped out.

You don’t want to start a blog or Facebook page just for the sake of having one. Each of these communication programs need to be vetted by your organization, assessing the opportunities and threats. You need to weigh the near-term and long-term goals against the required resources needed to get there. Twitter followers, blog subscribers, and Facebook fans don’t grow overnight. Building your social media presence requires significant time, effort, and, most importantly, planning.

– Who in your company is going to lead your social media efforts? What challenges will they face?

– Where do your customers live and play online? How can you best listen to them, and leverage those learnings once you join the conversation?

– How do you market your company in the social media space while maintaining a genuine voice?

It’s critical that you develop detailed operational and creative strategies that will serve as the foundation of your social media efforts. If you’re hoping to capture lightning in a bottle, and have a blog post spread like gangbusters right from the blocks, then you have drank too much of the social media Kool Aid. The end game isn’t a one off blog post that gets some traction. A spike in visitors (or friends) doesn’t make for a long-term strategy. Even when those things happen they need to be nurtured. Any good game plan can be undone without the right follow through. Remember that having a voice can do as much damage as it can good.

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