Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard enough about social media that you have thought about creating a Facebook page or Twitter account for your business. Maybe you heard someone talk about some social media success stories at a conference. Maybe you’re competitors are using it. Regardless, before you start flinging mud at a wall, its critical to have a strategy around social media communication.
We are all so busy at work already, why would we want to add one more thing to the list? Especially something that could be time consuming and might not get immediate results. Why do I need a Facebook Fan Page? What will I use it for? How will that actually help my business and who is going to manage all of this? These are all very valid questions.
Individuals can communicate with other individuals anywhere on the planet in real time. There are a huge number of tools that now allow us to communicate using text and this type of communication requires far less investment than verbal communication ever did. Having a conversation requires me to sent and receive many messages and cost money if it required a phone call to do it (until Skype came along). As a result of this change, we are experiencing huge uptake in social media use (SMS messages, tweets, online chats, forums, blogs, messages and emails).
Once you begin to embrace the changes that have impacted our ability to communicate with other people it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed. If you’re just getting started, it’s very difficult to determine what is most important to your business because there are so many opportunities. You cannot do it all straight away and blindly mimicking your competitors is never a good choice. Social media is not free. As Charlene Li puts it: “Social Media trades media costs for time costs”. You have to make a decision on how to allocate limited resources.
At Think!, we base all of our clients’ strategy around three phases in a Walk – Run – Fly process. It doesn’t matter what you call it but the important thing to remember is not to try and bite off more than you can chew. Paul Cubbon from the University of British Columbia (who also helps Think! with client strategy and workshops) has a great analogy for this: if you’re going to eat an elephant, you have to start with its tail. Ask yourself; what efforts are going to get me the best results and what is the most effective allocation of my budget and time?
It’s harder to be strategic than it is to just rush in because strategy requires planning. Planning takes time and is more taxing than rushing to begin. Articulating plans also requires a lot of commitment. Planning to measure performance requires a commitment to execute. Effectively executing a plan takes even more time. Despite this, strategic planning for social media use is absolutely essential.
A clear strategy will show how your social media use and aligns with other activities to achieve your business objectives. This stops you from wasting time and money on ineffective activities and helps you to allocate resources to real results. In my next post, I’ll share the process we use when creating a social media strategy for our clients.