Building Your Social Media Approach

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In order to build a social media approach for your company (or for yourself personally), there are five key steps to consider and follow:

Step 1: Research
Take a look at the types of social media available (it’s a constantly changing landscape) and determine which tools are most beneficial to your company. I highly recommend participating in social media on a personal level in an effort to get a feel for how it works before engaging your company.

Look at where your target audiences are online and find out what they’re talking about. How can your company join these conversations and add value?

Step 2: Audit
This steps requires you to take a look at your company and determine what your biggest obstacles are, including slow adoption of social media. During this step, it’s important to evaluate the obstacles you may face and determine how you and your team can overcome them.

Who is on staff that is most enthusiastic about social media? Many times, these are the people that are already involved on a personal level. Are they interested in learning more about the social media craft and are they capable of holding conversations with your target audiences?

Step 3: Plan
Now that you know what types of social media your company will employ and who will be the brand champion, how will you measure your success? Keep in mind that there are generally two types of success: Impact and ROI.

Do the folks in your company understand that you’re not going to see an immediate and direct return-on-investment?

Step 4: Internal Education
So you have a select few who are involved in social media on a personal level and have agreed to assist you in shepherding the company into this new media. What about the majority of employees who not understand how it works and don’t realize the amount of time and conversation it requires?

And, because your company is becoming a part of the social media world, what sort of policies do you need to create to protect both your company and employees?

Step 5: Participation and Evaluation
As you’re diving into social media, keep a watchful eye on what others are doing. Set up RSS feeds and Google News to monitor peers and competitors. Listen in on these conversations and be sure you’re represented within every social media tool that your competitors are using.

Plan your participation, too. If there are major ideas you want to present to your target through social media, consider creating an editorial calendar. By outlining conversations you want to start, this allows you to pick up on your social media efforts and keep the flow going.

And finally, continuous evaluation is key. Are we active in our communities? Are the conversations flowing? How can we improve our presence and our content? What are we doing with the information we gain?