“Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions: Why am I doing it, What the results might be, and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions you can go ahead.”
My question would be: have you asked yourself these questions before jumping into social media? Did you forget to do so; or you just didn’t bother? Whatever your answer might be, many companies failed to use social media effectively and efficiently because they missed this part. Those words quoted above are from Chanakya; an Indian guru who lived about 2,360 years ago. A warning that had been given long time ago.
On my previous blogpost, ‘The Internet Show and The Mobile Show Asia 2012‘, I had thrown 6 questions to help you in defining a clear strategy and direction for your social media efforts. As promised, I’ll elaborate each one below:
1. What do your really need from social media?
Define your objective and you’ll end up with a long list. But, remember. Social media is a tool. It helps, but it doesn’t do magic. Thus, choose only the objective that is feasible to you. Decide on your priority. Then ask yourself again, how social media—apart from other means, can help you to accomplish this objective. Having said that, it means that you really have to understand about your company and about how different social media platforms can support your efforts.
2. Have you integrated your social media strategy with your marketing communications strategy?
When you have defined your social media needs/objective, the next step would be formulating the strategy. Social media doesn’t stand alone. It should be a part of a higher objective. If your objective is to attract new recruits, you need a set of strategy in hand. It may involve your finance people, to decide on the package and benefits. Or your HR people, to find out the new talents out there and find a way to lure them in. Or your PR people, to get the success stories out in the paper or magazine about how young people have built their career in your company. A part of it may have something to do with social media, to increase people’s awareness: like having a reality show on YouTube showing the young people in your company who are enjoying their work and their office environment. So social media is only a part of your overall strategy. You need to work on the strategy part first. For some cases, social media may not be the most suitable tool; don’t force it.
3. Who are your online customers/audiences? Where are they?
What do they do online? Do they blog? Do they read blogs? Do they think Google+ is cool? How many hours a day do they spend watching YouTube videos? Are they on Facebook? Are they using Android phone? Do they shop online? Ask yourself these kind of questions to define your audiences. Find out their social media pattern; for instance how they interact with others, which circles they are in, when do they become active online, etc. If you have the answer to such questions, you’ll know better on how to approach them—and what’s the most effective means to do so. Demographic and psychographics research, those are the types of research most companies have conducted. Now it’s time for a Technographic research. Map your customers/audiences behavior online.
4. If you’re the customer, what do you expect from your company?
Unlike mass media or traditional media, social media content is defined by the people—not by business or media owners. The rule of the game is that companies should facilitate the crowd; the people. Try to identify what people are expecting from your company. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Will you be happy to receive 5 updates on Facebook per day about a new refrigerator? Decide what your company can offer to make your customers see your content as something important, relevant and valuable. Starbucks have seen the opportunities to use the wisdom of the crowd by establishing www.mystarbucksideas.com. Starbucks gather people’s opinion and ideas about what they expected from the company; while at the same time harness these ideas for Starbucks’ business improvement.
5. How do you define success?
You are successful when the output and the impact of your efforts meet your objective. The challenge is to give meaning to the numbers you’re aiming or receiving. For example, how many followers on Twitter you must have to be successful? And why does that number defined success? You have 1 million fans on your Facebook page, so what does this number mean to your business? You’ll find it hard to answer these questions if you don’t have a clear objective in mind about why you’re using social media at the first place. If you know that you need to find 3 new recruits to fill in a certain position in your company by August 2012 and this is your objective, you don’t need to have 1 million fans on Facebook. You may only need to engage 20 potential recruits from LinkedIn. And you can measure your success if you get 3 new recruits for your company at the end of the day. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about the meaning behind those numbers.
6. Have you committed enough resources?
Some social media platforms are free, but they can’t work on their own. You need people to manage these platforms; and these people have certain skills that don’t come for free. You also need to monitor and brief the people who are working on these platforms, and this will take your time. When you’re organizing quizzes or campaigns in social media, you may need a developer or designer to work on some applications and banners for your Facebook page. You need to prepare your resources for this.
So, how are you going to do it? Or how have you been doing? One important note from me is to keep asking these questions regularly. After all, people change. Businesses change. So never stop asking.