It came up in conversation twice in the month of August the discussion of social media and its use in the enterprise. In both instances the people I was having lunch with were telling me about the social media strategy their respective organization had put into place. As I listened it dawned on me that the discussion was entirely about the tools being used.
“This is what we’ve done with Facebook” ”
This is how many Tweets we are doing each day.”
“This is why we aren’t blogging.”
After a while I asked each of them the same question “What was the overarching objective in your social media strategy?”
The first person I asked replied “Well we didn’t really put together a strategy, because we knew what we wanted.”
The second person I asked two weeks later replied “Our strategy was to start using social media!”
After I’d had these two lunch conversations I sent emails to each of them and thought it would be worthwhile sharing some of the themes in this blog post. Quiet simply, social media is about starting & nurturing a dialogue with your audience (customers / prospects / employees / potential new hires / vendors).
Conversation. What is conversation? It’s a two-way dialogue and for organizations that is critical. Both internal and external communication allow you to develop that relationship with various stakeholder groups that is vital to the ongoing success of the business. Too often social media tools are being used simply to accumulate the number of [followers / friends / contacts / readers] – this is an important metric, but it’s not the key metric. What you should be striving for (and measuring) is the level of interactivity. How often are you engaging in conversations? Are you providing an opportunity to dialogue? Are you communicating clearly to your audience, but also providing an opportunity for you to listen?
If you start to answer some of those questions and design your social media strategy around the idea of encouraging a greater level of communication, I think you will see an increase in value realized. The tools / services are important. Each of them offer a different “fit” in your social media strategy. For example, Twitter is great for ongoing broad communications, LinkedIn is excellent for interacting with your professional network, while blogging allows you to develop a richer discussion through deep dives on particular topics. All the technologies can integrate and help feed each other and that should be factored into your strategy as well. First and foremost, however, you need to step away from the technology and set the strategic objective from a business communications perspective.
What do you want to communicate and why? Start there and the rest will follow.