Ask before you leap into social media.
One of things I hear a lot from students on the Online PR course module that I deliver, especially those who are doing internships, is the dictum from management to sort out their social media. When I dig a bit deeper they reveal that the request is normally to get their facebook presence up to scratch or to set up a twitter account. Both legitimate requests but very tactical and while this group are pretty adept on the platforms, the lack of a strategic approach normally leads to an unhappy experience.
Those managing the social sites are hamstrung by lack of content, direction, tone and an understanding of what the company wants to achieve. On the other side, management get disillusioned with the vast time input in social media versus driving the business forward.
Although everyone wants to show something tangible as quickly as possible its best to take a bit of time to reflect on what you really want social media to achieve for the company and what resources that would take.
With that in mind I have put together a long list of questions that could help divert from the natural tendency to rush out and set up yet another Facebook account.
You might not get the answers to all 62 questions but the choices with social media are so vast that the more prescriptive you are the better the chance of it being successful for you.
- What are the core goals of the company?
- What is the company trying to achieve – the more specific the better?
- What does the company want social media to deliver?
- Is it to drive sales, increase leadership positioning, amplify special offers or keep people updated, increase website visits etc?
- How long will it run?
- What does success look like in social media – be specific on numbers?
- How many fans, followers and interaction – also google analyitics on website visits from social media?
- What resource is going to be allocated to it – both time and financial?
- Is there training for individuals and the entire group needed?
- Are there any risks especially legal ones to the content and people adding comments?
- How can these risks be mitigated?
- Who are the target audience?
- What do we know about their behaviours?
- What do they do, what do they like, what are their interests and what content do they gravitate to?
- What other causes are you competing against?
- What other groups have done well – what good Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube accounts are there?
- What can you learn from them?
- What will update reports on social media activity look like and how often will they be delivered to the group?
- What are the KPIs (key performance indicators) that really matter?
- What keywords do you wish to be found for, what keywords work well in your arena?
- Who are the online influencers, do you have any connection with them and what do they gravitate to/talk about?
- Do you have any listening posts established to know who is talking about your cause and related areas?
- Who manages comments and how will they respond?
- Can you respond to any comments or does everything have to go through the committee?
- Do you have budget to use a monitoring service?
- Where will the content and updates come from?
- Is there a rich pipeline of stories you can tell?
- Is there an editorial calendar?
- What milestones are there?
- Who is good at writing and can anyone create multi media content from graphic design to video?
- Can you get people to guest blog and who are they?
- What is your social currency?
- What do you have to talk about that others on social media would be interested in or care about?
- What are people passionate about?
- What is your tone of voice?
- Is it friendly or authorative?
- How can you grow your network?
- Who has active accounts that will help promote your cause?
- Will the group agree to cross post, share or retweet content for you?
- Are there other symbiotic social media groups that might like/share your stories or help to promote?
- Do you have a database that can be used?
- What social media sites are relevant and which ones should you focus on?
- Who is going to update these and how often?
- Will you allow people to add comments and content to your social media sites?
- What are the rules for external people using your social media site?
- Is there a website in existence for the company (or particular sections) and can you put on links to the social media sites you will be using?
- Does the website have social media sharing buttons?
- Will people include links to the social media presence on all emails?
- Who has the access codes and what type content will be utilised?
- Do you have social media guidelines in place to ensure everyone understands the language that can be used through to what will be promoted through social media?
- Is there any budget to buy advertisement space on the social media sites?
- Will you have different content for different sites?
- Will you automate the posting across different sites?
- Will you be using any tool such as Tweetdesk, Hootsuite or IFTTT.com?
- Are there crisis management plans in place?
- What is the escalation procedure if things go wrong in social media?
- Who is part of the social media team – it should include everyone?
- How will stories be passed on to the person updating the social media sites?
- Is there a structure to ensure that all communications is integrated and that announcements are coordinated?
- Are you working with other teams – website team, pr team and any other agencies that you could leverage to get the most from social media?
- How can you ensure that the social media programme is agile and how do you build learnings into what you are doing?
- How do you share the successes with the wider team so people know things are going well?
It takes time to plan social media and much of this should be done before any profiles are established. Things get very busy very fast and the more thought put into the structure, reporting, sharing and planning the more likely it will be to be successful. Unless the company understands that social media needs resourcing and they are clear about why/how they are going to use it then putting your hand up for the job might not be the best idea.
Would love to hear peoples own experiences or any additional questions.