Social media sites represent the fastest growing segment of the web. How does an organization best develop a strategy for effective use of social media? In this post we’ll outline key components of an effective social media strategy.
What is Social Media?
“Social media” refers to web sites in which users can communicate with other users. This may involve sharing updates (blogs or Twitter); swapping video (YouTube); exchanging photos (Flickr), or other forms of collaboration.
Many of these sites are growing quickly. For example, the largest social media site, Facebook, has grown about 200% this year and is ready to pass Yahoo and Google and become the largest destination online.
Should My Organization Use Social Media?
Since social media sites have become so important, all organizations probably should be using social media to some extent. How it is used depends on your organization’s objectives. Before designing a social media strategy, it is necessary to consider the goals you want to achieve. These might include:
- Enhancing marketing efforts for your organization’s services or ideas;
- Strengthening ties with existing clients and colleagues;
- Learning more about your sector;
- Increasing your overall visibility.
Once you have decided your goals, you can define the specific components of a social media strategy.
Social Media Strategy
The main questions to be addressed in your strategy are the following:
Member Needs Research: What will be the interests and needs of members of the communities you build or join? This research typically involves a combination of polls and surveys.
Social Media Ecosystem Research: What social media sites do you plan to include on your site, and which third party sites will you engage with?
Engagement Planning: What are the approaches and goals for each of the social media sites you engage?
Platform Selection: If you plan to run any blogs or communities on your site, which platforms will you use?
Management & Moderation: How will you train your online community team in order to identify best practices for moderation?
Metrics & Reporting: Which metrics will you collect, what will they tell you, to whom will you report, and how often?
Policies & Governance: How will you develop community and social media policies that fit your organization, and implement them effectively?
While it is important to plan for your social media strategy, it is also important not to get stuck in the planning phase. Experimentation is an important component of a successful approach towards social media. Do your planning — but also jump in and give the social media sites a try!