It’s dangerous to state the obvious. When stating the obvious, you run the risk of looking like you don’t know that your point is obvious, when in fact, your whole point is that the obvious isn’t obvious to everyone. Obviously.
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a social media conference, focusing on ensuring that your social media activities lead to relevant and measurable outcomes. At the end of the presentation, I was asked for advice on how to start a successful social media campaign. My answer was in the form of a question, asking what the person wanted to accomplish. Were they looking at social media as a way to increase sales? Build brand image? Get ideas from their customers? What was the definition of “successful”?
I find myself asking this question a lot, in part because social media is still a “shiny new thing” for many business people. Human beings, like cats, are bedazzled by the “shiny new thing” (henceforth, the SNT), whether it’s a new phone, a new kitchen appliance, or a new algorithm. We are hypnotized by its brilliance, and we begin looking for ways to use the SNT whether it’s useful or not. Anyone who has bought an appliance like an ice cream maker knows this.
So, social media is a new SNT, and people are desperate to use it. They are probably right to do this. Despite its shininess, it is a very useful tool. However, it’s a tool that is most powerful when properly directed. Therefore, when people ask a general question about social media, I ask them to first articulate what they are hoping to accomplish. Is it a goal that is well served by social media? Sometimes it’s not. When people ask me whether or not they should tweet or blog, I ask them what they want to say, and how do they expect to benefit from their work. Often, the answer takes a while to come out. Such is the power of the SNT. As we do social media strategies for people, we begin by asking these questions. What are the success criteria overall? What is the business goal? How do people expect to measure the results? In other words, tell me what you want to accomplish, and I’ll tell you if and how social media can help you, along with guidance around the channels, content, and organizational structure.
Starting with a definition of your end goal might seem like obvious guidance, but it’s a point worth highlighting because the allure of the SNT is so strong. It can often get you using the right tool for the wrong reasons. Each campaign, and even each post, should be done with an outcome in mind. So, you might ask, what is the point of this post? Good question. I’ve briefly mentioned some of the things we’re doing with social media strategies for our clients, crafting strategies that target different business challenges across different social channels, taking into account governance, metrics, and a host of other concerns. At the risk of stating the obvious, my hope is that we can work with you to create such a strategy. But be forewarned, I’m likely to answer your questions with questions of my own.