Rules of Engagement – how to get your organization social-media-ready

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

Facebook is the largest social network globally – so that’s where your company has to be. And quickly add Twitter as well as everybody is talking about it. Come on, rush out and set up a page! Or not?

One of the biggest mistakes companies do when it comes to social media, is to rush in without a clear objective and combined with that not understanding their respective social media universe. So while Facebook might be the right bet for some, for others it could be specialist blogs, topical forums or starting with getting your corporate website up to speed. Your multiple online presences have to be carefully chosen after getting to know where your target audiences really are – which is a given for the traditional media landscape: or would you try to reach customers of high-voltage switch boxes in a teenage fashion magazine?

Hence, a sincere social media audit is the first step of any engagement or outreach programme: Where are relevant conversations happening? This means not only to look out for your brand and competitor mentions, but even more: where are people talking about topics that are relevant to your business? E.g. when you are selling life insurances, you would find many related discussions in online forums of soon-to-be parents who are thinking to safeguard their offspring.

So after starting with monitoring your social media environment, the next step would be to analyse more in-depth the kind of conversations, their tonality, topics, issue etc. before actively engaging.

When you do this, you might be surprised, how many of your own employees are already active in the social media space. Are you actually encouraging them to be brand ambassadors or do you have guidelines that rather want to limit their social media engagement? Unfortunately, too many social media guidelines are written like a penal code and – similar to employee handbooks – are never read beyond the cover page.

It drills down to the overarching question: What is your organization’s objective to achieve in and with social media? And as a consequence of this: who in your organization should be involved in your online strategy: Is it just Marketing or PR? Or should HR take a lead? What’s IT’s role in this?

While you might still be wondering which approach might be the right for your company, rest assured that your stakeholders are already discussing your brand, your products, your industry – maybe without you.

Do you know where to find them?

Lars Voedisch is a Dow Jones media consultant based in the Asia Pacific region. He can be followed on Twitter at @larsv and @dowjonesinsight.

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