Today many business leaders are being forced to ask themselves one very important question: “What can I do to grow my business.” Although this often-asked question seems straight-forward, it will often go unanswered. As the technologies of our world continue to advance, many traditional techniques for finding and retaining customers are becoming less effective than they have in the past, and organizations are in search of alternative methods for growing their opportunities. But there’s a problem… many are not sure where to start.
Enter, social media.
Almost everyone has heard of it. Many have created a profile on one or more of the social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc). Few have been able to us it effectively to grow their business. The goal of this article is to help those who are looking for a new tool, those who want to find a few starting points for social media in business, or those who just need a bit more convincing before deciding whether or not to jump in.
Let’s get started:
“Its all just just a fad right? Why spend my valuable time on the online flavor of the day?”
Those who have these thoughts may have already answered their own questions about whether or not their business is ready for social media. Becoming more social requires a shift in thinking, and new perspective on communication in an inter-connected world. Organizations must remove their preconceived notions about the positive or negative aspects of social media in order to more effectively begin their efforts to find its potential value. By beginning with cleared thoughts, and a blank canvas it will encourage creativity and enhance motivation for those involved in the planning process.
POINT #1 – START WITH A CLEAN SLATE
When organizations first approach social media, they often focus first on the platforms themselves. Even the most popular platforms such as Facebook are relatively new business tools for many people, most platforms have only been in use for the last 8 years. As a company begins to experiment with the variety of tools and techniques that are available, it can quickly overwhelm the average person – especially with the time constraints that business leaders face on a day-to-day basis.
Rather than taking the approach of deciding which platforms to use, it is appropriate for most business leaders to start their thinking on a more strategic level. Organizations must take their long and short term business goals into consideration. It is wise to discuss what is already being done to accomplish those goals, and use that information to help decide how the tools and methodologies of social media can best compliment those goals.
POINT #2 – IMPLEMENT STRATEGIES BASED UPON ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS
Once a strategic plan has been established, that is matched to your organizational goals that’s it, right?
Not so fast. A more effective approach is to create a documented version of the final strategic objectives that are decided upon in the goal-setting phase of the planning process, and making them available for all to see. Often times an approach is thought through, discussed and left up to the person in charge to do their best to see it through to completion. This creates potential problems not only for those who are responsible for carrying out the objectives to stay on target, but it also for those who will be reviewing the results of the strategic implementation at the scheduled time of completion. By writing down all of your strategic goals, and creating action plans for achieving those goals, all stakeholders will have a clearer picture of what social media can do and how that will be accomplished.
POINT #3 – PUT THE PLAN INTO WRITING
“Testing leads to failure, failure leads to understanding.” This is a quote from Burt Rutan, one of the world’s foremost aerospace pioneers, and it is as true in social media as it is in the aerospace industry. The concepts and approaches that an organization plans on taking as it begins to implement its social media strategy may seem to make perfect sense for those who are involved in the planning process. However, many times the final result does not match the initial intent.
Much can be gained by testing the functionality of your social media platforms, performing usability testing, and having internal and external focus group discussions. Potential failures can be exposed, opportunities for improvement can be identified, and the most successful components can be identified. By performing appropriate testing prior to implementing a social media strategic plan many unexpected pitfalls can be avoided.
POINT #4 – TEST IDEAS BEFORE IMPLEMENTATION
As an organization begins its journey into the world of social media it will be important to measure the costs that are incurred by doing so, against the returns that are seen in terms of the original objectives. The strategic objectives that are established in the written strategic plan should be tracked and reported and the return on investment from that progress can then be made based upon the measurement of data.
“What data should be measured?” is a question that should be answered within a strategic plan. An organization should first determine its key performance indicators. This might include indicators such as number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or web traffic. These performance indicators will be different for each organization, but important criteria to consider as these indicators are established are:
- That it is possible for them to be measured objectively
- That they are capable of being acted upon
- That they are reasonably achievable
- That they are set to be complete within a given time period
- That they are connected to the greater mission of the organization
POINT #5 – ENSURE APPROPRIATE MEASUREMENTS ARE TAKEN
Social media can be a powerful addition to a business leader’s ability to expand their reach, and improve relationships with their customers. However, taking a strategic approach, and truly understanding the most appropriate approaches and starting points rather than jumping in without a plan can make the difference between wasted effort, and finding real value.
Want to learn more about how to find the right social media starting point for your business? Contact Us today!