Chances are good that in 2011 you are using social media in one form or another, either personally or for your business. I’d like to focus our conversation on how you are using it for your business. I often hear from folks, “we need to get on Facebook.” A worthwhile and necessary endeavor indeed, but without careful planning and a coherent social media strategy, it can quickly devolve into a hindrance for your business rather than a benefit.
Two key questions every organization must ask itself before launching a social media plan are why and how. Why? We want to reach a larger audience for our services, establish ourselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts, or we want to bridge the communication gap between management and our customers. Any one of these responses is a valid initiator toward launching a social media strategy. Notice I did not suggest ‘because everyone seems to be doing it’ as justification.
Where matters begin to get tricky is the how. How do we achieve our communications objectives through the social media? If we understand that its purpose to generate conversation at the personal level then you can begin to shape your content in a way that will produce questions, ideas, comments and ultimately new followers. The conversation, as in “real life,” should never be one sided. The intent is to steer your followers towards creating their own content and interacting with your page. In other words, with social media you’re aim isn’t to pitch, it’s to strike up conversation about your company to create goodwill, find influencers, and expand your network.
Social media alone is not a comprehensive communications strategy. It serves as one weapon in your organization’s communications arsenal. It’s used to support your mission, enhance visibility with consumers, connect with business partners, and find new clients. Further it is a support mechanism to the other ways you are trying to reach your audience through the press, trade publications, or blogs. Before you launch a social media program, consider the why and how your plan will be executed. If you are already engaged, is there ever a bad time to step back and give your organization an honest evaluation of your social media plan?
Joe Quijano is the founder of Quijano Public Relations. Follow Joe on twitter @JoeQuijano and at quijanopr.com.