Monthly Archives: October 2012

When Tactics, Not Strategy Drives Your Social Media

This topic is top of mind after a discussion I had the other day with colleagues. Many times in organizations internal stakeholders discuss tactics rather than strategies. Who is going to post this to Facebook? We should tweet this out from the corporate versus the product handle. This is a waste of energy for one simple reason: without a comprehensive, clear objective your tactics will never substitute a strategy.

I run into this often in my current role. Many folks want to change the conversation from “what’s the ultimate goal of using social media” to “I think we should be on Pinterest?” Bad move. Without a clear goal on why you want to use social media, whether it is to increase brand awareness, client engagement, or decrease customer support inquiries you will never get beyond tactical conversation that yield boo. Yeah, I said boo. This is a circular conversation that is like a rocking chair. Everyone feels great that they are “accomplishing a task,” but it is going nowhere.

How can you change the tide to be more productive?

1)   Figure out whether your social efforts will be driven by product or brand. Both have plusses and minuses. Personally, I think brand should be running the social media show in order to ensure one voice, one message. Doesn’t mean brand is the only stakeholder, but whomever in your group/ organizations manages the company’s message should be the ringleader. Then involve stakeholders throughout the organization: sales, services, HR, your senior leaders, and most importantly employees. In other words, what people do you plan to use in order to implement your social media attack plan.

2)   Write down your objectives. Please. How can you be “successfully” running or maintain social media without planning out what you plan to achieve? Without a plan you are just “posting” or “tweeting” for the sake of doing it. Pointless and will not yield anything other than you feel good about yourself. Hi-five for you.

3)   Once you have objectives, wait for the dirty word, what “Strategy” will you implement. By definition the word strategy (I used Wikipedia), is plan of action designed to achieve a specific goal. Strategy is all about gaining (or being prepared to gain) a position of advantage over adversaries or best exploiting emerging possibilities. There is it is kids, a plan. Just because you are posting to Facebook or using Twitter doesn’t mean you have a social media strategy. Don’t embarrass yourself by thinking otherwise.

4)   After the groundwork is built, then you figure out where your audience is. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest. If so then how many? Is it worth your effort to reach this audience?

5)   Now that you did this amazing work, how will you measure it? For me, I measured our work based on metrics tied to awareness (transactional data, i.e. followership), engagement (social shares, website traffic, time on site) and alignment (with corporate and department goals). I had monthly reports on this and then completed six-month report to our senior folks.

Overall, changing from tactic is more than words. It’s about establishing your business as a social business, not just a social brand. It’s about the action, but about the thought and reason why you are participating in social media. In order to build a social business there must be buy-in at both the employee and senior leader.   More to come on building a social business, not just brand.


What Makes a Good Expert for Media Interviews?

This week, I thought a lot about what makes a good expert to place in the media. My primary motivation about this topic is based on my experience working with my internal stakeholders this week to find “fresh stories to tell”.

How can you explain to other non-communication or public relation professionals what makes a good candidate to speak with the media? Racking my brain for ideas, I came up with the following:

1)   Sense of urgency. Very important, especially for folks who work on tight deadlines. If I call you and mention this opportunity will you call back within twenty-four hours? While you may think this is the next WSJ article your expert, especially a busy client, may not call back immediately. While follow up is obvious, some folks are not interested even though you gauge their interest weeks or months back.

2)   A Real Expert.  Many times I get clients on the phone that do not perceive themselves as an expert or practitioner. Someone recommended them to speak, yada yada. Waste of time. Make sure when you connect with the client to make sure they are confident in the subject before the interview. Even though I speak with a few folks who are my “go-to people,” I try to confirm their interest in the topic before connecting them with someone from the media.

3)   Titles are good, but TRUE Subject Matter Experts are Better. I see this happen a lot in my industry. I get on the phone with the Director or Vice President, who candidly (thank you!) says that their colleague or direct report is the real expert. No worries. Thank them for their time and get the real experts name ASAP.

4)   Do a pre-brief. Any client I get referred to as “oh, they love our product, you should call them” or something similar gets a pre-conference call with me. It’s a trial run for me to assess the ability of the “expert” to convey her ideas, think on her feet, and to answer not only high level questions, but also granular.

5)   Go with your gut. She never lies! Many times I have been referred to clients who are allegedly “great speakers” or “awesome advocates” to find out they may not be the best at conveying their thoughts in coherent or direct manners. These folks are not bad, just may not be best for live interviews. I usually see if the reporter will do an e-mail interview and correspond that way. Not everyone will do this, but some reporters will.

Nothing on the list above is new, but going through these steps will save you time.

Social Media Needs to Involve Others, but There’s a Catch (Part 4)

In my past entries I explained the four things I learning while implementing a corporate social media strategy.

4)    Social Media Needs to Involve Others, but There’s a Catch

My final point or tip I learn is that everyone needs to participate in social media, otherwise your efforts will be 1) minimized and 2) only seen as a marketing or communications “thing.” Let’s be clear that I am not advocating that everyone in your organization needs to “tweet” or post your company’s business on their Facebook. Rather instead of focusing on the 100 percent, focus on those who are interested and want to participate. If they “raise their hand” make sure your provide them with social media guidelines or a playbook. This doesn’t need to be the length of War and Peace, however, should provide your employees with guidance on what not to do and what is considered acceptable.

A good example is Red Cross Social Media Playbook.

If that’s too in-depth, here is what I focused on with our company (outline):

  • FAQ
  • When You Engage
  • Procedures ( essentially, what you should and should not be doing)
  • Our style guide on social media
  • How we response to flagrant or negative comments (response)

The above may be too much or too little, but ultimately you want to give your people some guidance before letting them loose. While social media may be free, the impact on your brand is forever. Anything that lives on Twitter or LinkedIn is for everyone to not only see, but also make an impression.

Ultimately, while it is create to have hundreds of your employees be your brand ambassadors (think Zappos), you still need to tread with caution. Not because your folks will do the unthinkable, but because if you do not set the expectation of what you expect from them, you will be disappointed or worse embarrassed. Not everyone thinks before before they post. You would be surprise on the number of inappropriate or ridiculous posts I have seen with folks who thought they were living the brand.

It is worth a conversation with your HR team too. Make sure you work with your internal stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.