do not pass “go” before you answer these questions about social media

July 12, 2010

in communication,social media


it’s dead easy and dead cheap to get started with many social media tools. don’t let the simplicity and affordability lead you down the garden path. be as strategic about your use of them as you would be with any other communication medium that’d set you back a few cool thousand.

before you launch any social media effort, make sure you know:

1. why you’re using social media.

the pressure’s on for any company not yet using social media, and they know it. that doesn’t mean plunging willy-nilly into the fray without a plan. make sure you know whom you’re trying to reach and what knowledge or behavior gap you’re trying to fill. knowing these answers will guide you to the right tool.

2. whether to build, buy, or glom on.

since there are so many tools out there—and your employees are using them—a good case can be made for glomming on to existing products. if you think you need to build, at least scour the landscape first to make sure what you’re looking for doesn’t already exist.

3. who’s feeding the beast.

writing blog posts, hosting podcasts, and cultivating networks takes care and feeding. start small and create successes. you’ll find you’ll free up more resources this way.

4. how you’re going to handle things that make you uncomfortable.

a story that’s “too personal” or a comment that sparks controversy or questions a company’s decision—do you know how you’re going to respond? hint: clamping down is not the answer.

5. whether you’re ready to be patient and cultivate.

don’t saddle your effort with unrealistic expectations. openness doesn’t spring up overnight, particularly where candor hasn’t been welcome to date. neither do new habits.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Drew Hawkins July 12, 2010 at 10:48 am

All of your main points center around the same theme: have a plan. Many companies dive headfirst into the social media pool without checking to see if there’s water in it first to float. Good, to-the-point thoughts here


fran July 12, 2010 at 4:38 pm

have a plan…should go without saying, right?!



mark July 16, 2010 at 11:25 am

very insightful, fran — any thoughts about how to get senior leadership at your organization excited about and open to SM?


fran July 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm

hey, mark. starting small is one great way to demonstrate the benefits of social media. that typically requires small budget and few resources, too, which is never a bad thing. you can also go under the radar by finding champions in other areas and at other levels. in fact, they may already be using social media and you can help trumpet their cause. if for wellness, you can take a look at my post “5 reasons to take employee wellness social.” in it i outline a case for adding social media to wellness efforts. another good read is my interview with lee aase, mayo clinic’s social media manager:

i’m also happy to chat if you want to ring me.



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