Currently at the Graziadio Business Report we are in the process of revamping our website – having reached the upper limits of the current platform. Tackling the usual web development project activities – planning, executing, monitoring – we’re now confronted with the task of developing our social media implementation. Though our initial impulse was to approach social media as any other marketing medium, we soon realized it’s not that simple.
With all the buzz around leveraging social media in business these days, it’s hard not to get caught up in the hype. The most common misstep is starting out any social media discussion with, “Should we be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or all three?” Failing to see the forest through the trees, social media is simply a broad description of communication channels, not a jumping-off point. Without initially defining the strategy, a social media campaign will prove no more effective than sending a direct mailer the wrong address.
In developing the GBR’s strategy, the initial focus was on the who, what and why: leaving the how, and lastly where, to be explored at a later time. We first asked ourselves what is the ultimate goal? Who is it that we are trying to reach? And why use social media? In the end we decided that our goal was to offer increased value to our readers, but we first needed to understand what that value was in the context of social media.
Exploring these questions, the discussion became less about social media, and more about what Hugh MacLeod calls “social objects.” These social objects can be anything from the church attended by two parishioners who share their faith on Sundays, to the proverbial community water cooler in the lunchroom instigating office gossip. As such, social media takes the concept of the social object virtual, leveraging the extensibility of Web 2.0 technologies to allow people to develop relationships in ways like never before.
Determining that we could deliver increased value to our readers employing different social media vehicles, the discussion turned to that relationship – the content, frequency, and connectivity offered – rather than the limited Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube discussion. We deliberated whether we wanted to go out and find our readers, or develop content to bring them to us? How often do we post blogs, write on walls, or tweet? Now we’re deciding how we want to communicate – networking, broadcasting, and messaging – allowing our purpose to drive our practice.
Having decided how to communicate with our audience, we then asked the where. Where can we connect to align the internal goals with the external? Does Twitter fit in with our resolutions on content and frequency (140 characters is much shorter than you’d think)? Do our readers want to view our office Flickr photos? The where is about choosing the best vehicle(s) for delivering content that will help us achieve our goals.