“Altimeter reports that 140 global corporate social media managers surveyed said they were tracking 178 social accounts on average, including about 30 on Facebook and 39 on Twitter, plus more across LinkedIn, YouTube, and Foursquare, as well as blogs, forums, and message boards. In the absence of an organized program for managing these identities, Altimeter warns a corporation can be stuck with the harder problem of social media “sanitation”–cleaning up messes after the fact.” — Information Week, David Carr
You have probably felt the pressure, personally and professionally, to join the social media revolution. You sign up for the free account on the respective social media platform, craft your clever message to the world, and wait for the masses to fall in love with you. Maybe this happens in Shangri La, but not on the social web.
Social media takes time (lots of it) to find a voice, craft content, and find an audience. Even more time can be wasted fixing mistakes originating from a flawed social media policy and, more importantly, strategy. Before you begin a blog, post a tweet, or launch a Facebook page, you need to ask a few basic questions.
- Why do I need to be on this social media platform?
- Why are my customers using this social platform?
- What are my customers looking for (entertainment, information, guidance, community, answers, etc)?
- How can the platform benefit my customers and how can this strengthen the sales funnel?
Once you know why you need to be on the service, you can then figure out the how. To prevent social sprawl you should figure out a communication framework aligns with each business function. Twitter, with its 140 character messages, might be the better channel for customer support to reach your customers and vice versa. Facebook may be better for product and promotion efforts. A blog might be best suited for general company and industry related information. Register your brand and/or company on all social media outlets but focus on the impactful few.
Your social media policy will also have an impact on the internal adoption rate and potential sprawl. A middle of the road approach gives the best results. Make your policy too restrictive or too policing and no one will contribute. Bad strategy and policy usually equate to an ill-conceived start and fast exit. A zero rule policy, on the other hand, will result in a fractured every-man-for-himself approach that will dilute any benefits. If you go down this road, you’ll spend plenty of time and money on the clean-up. By then, any potential good and audience might be gone.