Last week, I gave 5 reasons why social media skeptics might be on to something and their skepticism has plenty of basis. I enjoyed hearing back from many who shared their insights and experiences. Some asked for suggestions on how to overcome skepticism and generate support for their social media efforts within the organization. So here are my top 10 tips for getting your social media initiatives off to a good start.
Please bear in mind that my POV is generally geared towards larger enterprises, so some of these may or may not hold true for smaller organizations. Many of the following hold true for launching any major new initiative not just social media.
#1 Don’t let your social media strategy be an orphan
Many underestimate the value of having an executive champion and evangelist for social media in the organization. Social media requires a mindshift and a culture change that needs to be driven from above. It doesn’t mean a grassroots effort won’t work, but directive from the top management helps move things along faster. Especially in larger organizations, management support can get your efforts more attention and the resources it needs to succeed.
#2 Aim for the stars, but let small wins pave the way
It’s great to have a comprehensive, grand plan but remember that even when you are planning a long-term strategy, you should also plan for short-term wins to keep your internal stakeholders engaged. These small wins validate your plan and build critical support, which is critical to ensure long-term survival of your initiatives in times of shifting priorities.
# 3 Don’t stand in a corner, get out there and dance
Sure way to make your social plan fail: Make it a standalone project run by a handful of social media enthusiasts without any relevance to what rest of the company is doing. To be truly successful, regardless of which group it resides in, your social media plan has to be incorporated in the overall corporate strategy so it can leverage as well as support what other departments are doing.
#4 Charity begins at home
Remember many traditional marketers are used to ‘one-way’ communication and the notion of ‘multi-way’ interaction still makes many uncomfortable. It’s no longer easy as sending out a press release and waiting for it get picked up, it’s more likely it will get picked apart by the social-citizens on some public forum. Work with them and make sure they grasp that you’re on their side and help them through the nuances of customer engagement in a social media world.
#5 Don’t get distracted by those fireworks
If you haven’t experienced it already, you will soon find out that everyone wants to own social media. Steer clear of those political landmines and make sure you have clearly defined goals and objectives for your social media plan so there’s no confusion as to what you’re doing or why. This is also why #1 is so important, having great ideas don’t mean much if you don’t have anyone to listen or support them. Be clear about the value your plan adds and enlist supporters/advocates/evangelists at every level in the organization.
#6 Play nice with your fellow marketers
I’ve heard so many comments about how traditional marketers ‘just don’t get it’. This attitude is just plain wrong and unproductive. I am not defending marketers who refuse to evolve and are unwilling to adapt, but please stop dissing marketing techniques (and marketers) who have proventhemselves and are generating positive ROI for the company. Social media for all it’s virtues is relatively unproven, and it’s not going to replace traditional marketing any time soon. My suggestion is to work with traditional marketers and not against them, to launch your social media initiatives.
#7 Don’t go it alone, Cowboy
Okay, so you’re already on top of the planning, evangelizing but now comes the fun part – implementation. Social media is all about interaction, collaboration, and a catalyst for breaking down silos within large organizations. There’s a lot of work to be done and you can’t do it all yourself. Clearly outline what you (and your team) is responsble for and identify partners in other departments who can take responsibility for doing the work because I can’t emphasize enough, social media is a LOT of work and one person can’t do it all.
#8 If you build it, they may never show up
I’ve seen way too many presentations that focus on how to ‘do social media’, engage the customers and achieve all things glorious and wonderful, however not many put any thought into how exactly they are plannning to drive engagement. You can’t just build the social site and expect that folks will magically show up at your door. It’s like throwing a huge party but not telling anyone about it. Build a solid marketing plan not just for publicizing your social media initiative but also to keep it going, so it doesn’t fizzle out after a spectacular launch.
#9 Don’t drink your own kool-aid…
…but do eat your own dogfood. It’s great to be a believer and evangelize social media, but make sure you back it up with plenty of know-how and action. Experimenting and testing various sites/tools will make you aware of what works and what doesn’t. Social media is not all wonderful, nothing ever is, but you will have an easier time winning over skeptics and rolling out a successful social media strategy, if you understand and absorb what social media is and what social media isn’t. (Here’s a fantastic post by Mike Fruchter to help you out).
#10 Remember me?! I am the CUSTOMER
When planning out your social media strategy, take into account your customer demographics and their communication preferences. If you cater to an older demographic, which prefers to interface via phone, focusing your efforts on Facebook may not get you any traction. Let your social media efforts be guided by your customers to ensure that you are engaging them through the most relevant media not just the ‘hottest’ ones.
I love hearing about your struggles and success stories, please take full advantage of the comment box below and let me know if you have a #11, #12…that I can add to this list :)