Seven Factors that Can Make or Break Your Social Media Program

Currently, I am working on my presentation, Social Media on a Budget for GSMI’s Social Media Strategies Summit.  As my copresenter, Veronica and I begin revamping this presentation, I realize there are several factors that affect whether a social media program will be successful or not.  Many factors to success are outside the scope of the marketing or PR team leading the charge. It is important to note while marketing or other functions maintain the corporate social channels, many other departments need to be involved. This list is not exhaustive; however, I believe these seven factors can make or break your social media program:

Social Media is NOT a Campaign, but a Commitment.

An important, but often overlooked aspect of getting involved in social media is that it takes resources, content, and money to make it work. I see many businesses running to create a Twitter feed or Google+ page, but then those feeds and pages go dormant because no one thought past the launch phase. To make social media work it takes planning.

You Need Executive Champion.

Any new initiative needs executive support otherwise it is doomed to never get off the ground. Working with my former managing director helped me understand what the C suite wanted. By sharing mini case studies with executives, I was able to leverage our wins in terms of what the C-Suite cared about: minimizing risk to the organization, increasing our awareness, and sharing our client success stories that peaked industry reporters interest.

Know the Difference between Strategy and Tactic

Simply enough, but many folks start with tactics first. I wrote in May about the importance of social media planning and strategy. Strategy is all about gaining (or being prepared to gain) a position of advantage over adversaries or best exploiting emerging possibilities. When I built our first social media strategy at Hobsons, I focused on two goals: awareness and engagement. (Two may be too many if you are just starting out.) With those two goals in mind, my team and I built a plan of action around them.

When planning out a strategy, you must be focused. In our case, if anything in the plan didn’t relate to awareness or engagement, it didn’t make the cut. It is too easy to get distracted and run in multiple directions.

You Need a Plan

While the cost to enter social media is low, maintaining social channels can be high. You need to outline more than tactics, but why your organization is getting involved in social media. I think while everyone is running to the next new shiny object, it is important to outline:

People. Objective. Strategy. Technology

People. Objective. Strategy. Technology

  • Who will be involved?
  • What’s the point of your social media activities (objective)?
  • How do you plan to reach your audience (strategy)?
  • Where is your audience now? (Technology/Platform)

Social Media is Not a One-Person show, You Need an Army

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 page. Rather instead of focusing on the 100 percent, focus on those who are interested and want to participate. If folks “raise their hands” make sure you provide them with social media guidelines or a playbook.

You Need to Outline Social Media Governance and Policies

Nothing sexy about governance or policy, but they are crucial to your social media program. Too many firms skip this step until a social media gaffe turns into a full blown social media crisis. Provide guidance to employees by way of a social policy or playbook. Edelman did a fabulous job in this blog post outlining social media governance that’s worth a look.

Don’t Forget to Measure and Report

Don’t forget about measurement. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a whole lot of activity, but without measurement. You made the case to make social media more strategic, but didn’t provide proof points to your boss or executives. You can provide a lot of data to your team, so focus on what you are trying to communicate. Inc. recently published a great article on the common metrics to measure social.  Whatever your measurement is, make sure it ties back to your objectives. Did you move the needle or not?

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

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