Winning the Social Media Game

Social media. Love it or hate it, it’s changing the face of business today. From Facebook to Twitter to Digg to YouTube, the number of social media outlets has skyrocketed in the past few years, leaving many organizations overwhelmed and confused about how to tackle this new arena. Whether already dabbling in social media or just thinking about getting started, communicators must be thoughtful in their approach. Just diving in will not achieve your objectives and could leave you with egg on your face. Information posted on social media channels is on the web forever – so it’s important to get the right message to the correct audience.

In this three part series, we will provide tips on engaging in a social media strategy that propels your brand forward. This week, we’ll focus on tips to get you started.

1. Ask yourself who, what, when, where why and how.
• Who are we trying to reach?
• Why do we want to talk to them?
• What do we have to say?
• Where is our audience—i.e. which social networking channels are they using
• How do we integrate social media into our overall marketing and sales strategy? This question can’t be answered until the above questions are answered.

2. Don’t go it alone. For social media to be successful in companies, it’s important to get buy-in. Pull in resources from HR, Technology, Marketing (including your agency partner) and possibly Legal (especially if intellectual property at risk). Together, figure out:
• Which messages is appropriate to communicate online. E.g. recruiting, new product launches, etc.
• What are the risks? The opportunities?
• Who is going to be involved?
• What controls do we need to put into place?

3. Map out a basic strategy that outlines the above including social networking channels a timeline, required human and fiscal resources and how other aspects of marketing and sales will support the social media efforts and vice versa. Also address how the strategy will be rolled out to the organization (e.g. training sales on LinkedIn).

4. What benchmarks will we use to determine success?
• Increased brand awareness
• Organic search engine visibility is on the rise
• Quicker sales cycle
• More unique visitors to your web site

In part two of our series, we’ll take a closer look at managing your brand online. This session will provide insight on how to ensure that everyone in the organization is on board with the corporate social media policy.

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