Friday, November 13, 2009

3 Simple Questions: Developing a Strategy for Social Media

While entertainment companies and a handful of corporations are effectively using social media tools in their marketing, promotions and communications strategies, the majority of associations, our bread-and-butter, still struggle with making the decision "Should we use it and, if so, how?"

First and foremost, lets remember that it is simply a communications channel. Like direct mail, telemarketing, your website, even the corporate water cooler, its a way to communicate your message to someone in a manner and environment that is most conducive to them for listening. I'm reminded of the 'internet craze' of 10 years back when I listen to many people talk about 'social media.' Perhaps, being a one-time dot-comer, I have a jaundiced view. However, it is wise and practical not to base the value of social media (and investment) on what we think it can do.

Taking this approach, we ask 3 simple questions:
  1. What communications need is the use of this channel going to satisfy?
  2. What is my target market?
  3. How are they using social media already?

In answering these very broad questions, remember to think in quantitative, as well as qualitative, terms. Our mantra now is ROI, and as many of us have seen, incorporating social media into your communications and marketing strategies can be costly in both financial as well as human resources.

There is no question that, for a growing number of associations, social media will become an intricate part of their overall membership strategy to increase awareness, drive member acquisition, develop and nurture member engagement, and support member renewal/retention.

But that's not to say it will be for ALL associations.

If you're on the fence, it seems that the best strategy for most is to: see how others are doing it first, then ask your members if they think its important; develop some ideas, then ask your members if they like these ideas or can offer some suggestions on how to make them better; test one or two of the best ideas, then ask you members if they used it and if so when/what/where/why and if not, why; make changes based on their suggestions, then ask your members....

Well, you get my point.

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