It’s great to see so many companies getting on board with social media. Nearly everyone at some point in the last year or so has seen the power of social media – whether it was connecting with an old friend via facebook or writing a blog entry with content that made it into the mainstream media.
It is, however, a bit disappointing to see so many companies jump on board without first doing their homework, and as a result now face a failed (or failing) social media strategy. Here are a few questions that your company should address before deciding to start any social media strategy, whether it’s a blog, facebook page or twitter:
Do you have a dedicated person whose job responsibility it is to maintain your blog (or other social media outlet)?
The #1 reason for a failed social media strategy is lack of maintenance. Most companies go gangbusters in the beginning, posting as much as possible, but after time, sometimes just a few weeks, posts begin to slow, until finally the last update was six months ago. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, not maintaining a blog is worse than never starting one in the first place. Not only does it show a lack of dedication but it also reflects poorly on the company as a whole. A sort of black eye. To prevent this from happening, a person or persons should be assigned to the maintenance of the decided upon social media outlet, posting and updating regularly. This is a task that needs to be built into a job description, not added as an aside during a meeting. Maintenance of social media takes time, a surprising amount of time, and needs to be taken into consideration from the beginning.
Do you have a plan in place to promote your chosen social media?
So your company has a blog that’s the most informative in the industry. The only problem is no one is reading it. There is more information on the web now than ever before (and will be even more in 30 seconds), so how do you direct target audiences to your information? A plan should decided on and in place from the beginning. Maybe your company has a twitter or facebook account and every time a blog post goes up it’s automatically posted and tweeted out. Creating a dedicated email blast to appropriate audiences giving them a tease of the post and directing them to where they can read more is a great way to increase visibility. Another tactic to give legs to a blog is to let other, similar blogs know about it, and ask that they link to it. This is especially effective for blogs that already have a high readership. You can also link back to and refer to older posts in more current posts, which is particularly beneficial for those who are newer to the blog.
Do you have a company policy in place about who can post and what they can and can’t say?
If your company’s social media outlet is updated by more than one person, intended content should be made clear from the beginning as well as what is considered inappropriate. Although some of the most interesting blogs stir a little controversy, you need to ensure that it’s controversy that you and your company are comfortable with. Some companies go as far as creating a social media handbook.
How will you keep your information relevant?
Your company may have decided to start a blog because someone had a great idea that was relevant at the time. However, that trend/topic, etc. is old news now, and the blog is getting stale. Or, there’s just a lack of ideas or inspiration to keep up weekly or daily posts. There should be a plan in place to gather new and interesting content. This may include creating RSS feeds on certain topics that might be relevant for commentary, or setting aside 20-30 minutes a day reading other blogs on similar topics that might spark ideas. Again, time is a necessary component in keeping a blog relevant.
A comprehensive social media strategy can be a great thing for a company, but answering these questions first is essential for long-term success.