Jan 28, 2011

As I opened up my Twitter log this morning to check out the latest tweets, I was blitzed with an overwhelming amount of social media messaging. It seems like everyone nowadays is a social media expert. Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Say this. Say that. Etc …

Do these people seriously sit around all day and tweet and retweet everyone else’s information and call themselves experts? It’s no wonder why there is such confusion and negativity in the workplace when the topic of social media arises. While there is no doubt that the world is in the midst of a social media revolution, the reality is that social media is a basic, simplistic concept — but you have to, like anything else, have a plan for it. If your organization has already made the plunge or if you are thinking about joining the vast and crazy world called the social media universe — it’s of utmost importance that you have a detailed strategy in place.

Currently, I am helping put together the pieces of multiple social media experiments gone bad. Companies come to me on a regular basis with problems such as having built a fancy Facebook page with no game plan or jumping head first into Twitter not knowing what to tweet, only with the intention that it will be cool and that everyone else is doing it. The problem: they built it and no one came.

Not only did no one come, no one in these companies has said anything on their respective pages: not a tweet, not a “like,” not even an update. The pages simply sit there occupying space.

Solution: Have a well-thought-out and detailed plan to encompass what types of social media the organization will use, how you will build your strategy, who will use the platforms, what you will say, who will be allowed to say it, and how you’ll know its working. We recommend four steps to help organizations analyze and understand social media, make a plan to leverage it, implement the plan, and monitor it to ensure it’s working:

Step 1 — Analyze and Understand the Social Media Space

Social media discussions shouldn’t start off with “we need to be on social media.” Understand “why” you want to be on social media to ensure you’re making a strategic move and not a trendy one. There are multiple platforms all with different categories of users and uses.

Step 2 — How/where to build your strategy

Know what you are trying to accomplish and which platforms will work best for your strategy and goals: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc. Also, have a social media strategy in place. Instead of banning social media in the workplace, encourage and help your organization create a social media policy. When you are setting up your social media policy, give employees ideas of what to do vs. what not to do.

Step 3 — Engage

Once you have your plan in place, start moving forward. Involve top employees as brand ambassadors and have them influence what is being said. Be authentic and transparent about what is said and very important — make social networking a lifestyle rather than a distraction.

Step 4 — Monitor and continuously update your strategy

Develop a team to monitor and control the platform. Ensure your sites are updated on a daily basis with relevant content and interaction with followers to engage them.

There is an abundance of social media success stories out there from recruiting, to sales, to business-building. You name it and someone or some organization has found the value in social media and benefited from it. You can be successful as well, but you will just need to have a defined roadmap first in order to achieve the end results that you desire.

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