Like most social media users, I use sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Blogger, to reach out to family and friends, network with colleagues, and share personal blogs. These venues make my social conversations both manageable and enjoyable. However, when I sought to utilize social media as a way to market our department brand, I went from a fast food menu of the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to a dizzying array of social media networks from which to select. Google+, Chimein, Dribbble, Picasa, Pinterest, Digg, and Instagram are just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of social media networks that number in the hundreds. Add in the many international social media networks found around the world and what were a few simple choices, became an overwhelming social media menu; and new social media networks continue to pop up faster than I could say, “I’ll have fries with that.”
With so many choices, how would I pick and choose the most effective social media networks that would provide the perfect social media options for my branding plan? After all, part of the “mystique” is the desire to utilize the next social media network de jour. An impossible task that would have had me spending more time on investigating every social media option rather than actually using available networks productively, so I backed away from the menu and outlined a social media strategy by asking the following questions:
- Who was my audience?
- What was the purpose of using social media?
- How would I dedicate and manage my time resource and stay involved?
- Budget – do you have one?
My audience is made up of fast moving and customer driven, professional technical teams who digest information quickly and move on. Social media is the vehicle that would put the information I need to get into our engineers’ hands at real time speed and with interaction exchange. I listened to their conversations and identified topics of interest and will present information in an engaging format that will enlist their attention. Visuals, such as pics and videos, and sound bite titles, such as tweets with links, are most successful for this group. Additionally, by employing gamification methods as a fun teaching tool, I would build awareness in a group that is often too busy to engage. Factor in that I had both a finite amount of time I could dedicate to these resources and encourage active participation and no budget, I would have to use free, social media resources and utilize the tools they provide for metrics oversight.
Being able to answer the above questions allowed me to narrow my choices, from the many social media networks available, to purpose-specific and globally popular social media platforms. With recognized voices such as Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, most of my audience was already familiar with these social media networks and would provide an easy learning curve to those who were not.
There are countless social media tools out there and not every tool works best for all business plans. Define your social media goals and the outcome you want before you begin selecting from the social media menu and if you are still not sure what to do, invest in a social media agency. They can assist you in defining a social media plan with the outcome you desire.
- Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
- Building a Successful Social Media Program – Cisco Learning Catalog Course