What is a social media program?
A lot of time, money, and ink (both virtual and real) have gone into trying to answer that one for some time now.
As with most things in life, there are probably a few answers to the question. (Those who argue there is only one answer tend towards fanaticism IMHO and I’llleave that there.) Having noodled this one myself for a while since getting into the business, my answer is that a social media program is the series of steps undertaken by you with Internet based collaborative and content creation tools. The goal is to develop a virtual following or community intended to achieve your goals and objectives. And, unlike some folks in the trade, I include measuring progress towards those goals and objectives and reevaluating the program if necessary.
Initially, in my blog, I’ll write about my views on social media and developing a social media program. I invite comments from my readers and I will have guest bloggers add their perspectives periodically. While some theory is always necessary, I’llinclude my own actual experiences and those of my clients as well as guest bloggers.
In this post, I will highlight the key components of a social media program. In later posts, I’lldive into more detail with each component. (I have to do something to bring you back!)
For me, there are eight steps in a social media program. There are many tasks and interim deliverables associated with each, but for now let’s review the eight:
- Establishing the Social Media Footprint. Which social media applications (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) should be selected and how should they be used? Not all apps are necessary or appropriate, and some may not assist in achieving your goals and objectives. Care should be exercised in making selections here and in deciding how to use the apps selected. The use of a personal blog is also addressed here.
- Normalizing the Social Media Identity. Once social media applications are selected, it’s important to ensure that there is a common look and feel across these for you. Potential followers can be confused or turned off by contradictory representations in your social media identity.
- Community Development. Establishing a presence with social media is easy. Our immediate family members, close friends added to a few followers, likes, connections, and whatever else can be scrambled together and, voila, a following! But, then what? While simple numbers are not a good way to measure impact they do provide a clue as to the viability of a social media program. How followers are attracted, engaged, and motivated to help us achieve our goals and objectives is what social media is all about.
- Social Media Integration. Once the social media footprint has been established with a common identity and an approach for community development then the pieces must be integrated into a whole. Each piece in the social media program must support the others and cross promotion must occur. All this must happen while realizing that each social media app has its own rhyme and reason which must be respected.
- Content Creation. While all the components are important this one is the most important in my opinion. The quality and frequency of your interactions with your following causes it to grow, to have people share and retweet (resend) your work, and to look forward to hearing from you is. I’m not talking about pictures from this year’svacation. (Although, used sparingly this can be beneficial.)I’m talking about originality and relevance.
- Publishing. How content is disseminated after it’sbeen created is important. This involves timeliness, how content is modified for a particular social media app, and use of others’ materials.
- Measuring Results. For me, the whole rationale behind a social media program is that I’m trying to accomplish something. Understanding how social media is expected to achieve these results is a first step. Measuring progress to goals and objectives is the next one. If progress is not being made, then what can be modified to get the program back on track?
- Continual Improvement. Finally, even if a social media program achieves its goals, it doesn’t end there. If goals have been successfully met then can new, stretch goals be devised? Business and social conditions change.Apps change. All these present opportunities to sit back and think about how the program can be improved.
These steps summarize for me how to initiate, maintain, and improve a social media program. Each of these represents tasks and interim deliverables. Third party tools are available to assist with these and enhance the social media apps themselves.
In my next blog post, I’ll get into the first component, Establishing the Social Media Footprint. I’ll look into the social media apps available and how they can assist in achieving goals and objectives.
In the meantime, thank you for following and reading my blog!
I do this for a living and if I can be of any assistance to either you or your organization, please feel free to call on me. Our initial discussion will be of no charge to you.
I look forward to any and all comments that you may have. I will reply to any comments made to this blog post as promptly as I can.
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My Twitter handle is @conpsweeney.