Fresh eyes

Where do I start with social media?

where do i start with social media

Published by Michael Gregory,
Director at Freshfield

I recently spoke at the Social Media Academy conference in Manchester, where various social media topics were discussed, including planning, resourcing and content development.

It was clear that organisations on a global scale, whether in the public and private sector; don’t need much convincing that social media can help them interact and engage with their audiences.

However, many simply don’t know where to begin. What we are seeing as a consultancy is that many organisations still aren’t actively engaged with social media and this may be down to a number of reasons:

•    Fear of technology (If I can use it, anyone else can)
•    Senior management just don’t ‘get it’
•    Don’t know how to get started
•    Don’t know how to gauge its impact or determine resources needed.

These are all fairly easy to answer, but before jumping into the social media maelstrom, take a step back and answer some simple questions:

•    Where do your audiences reside on social media? (This will give you the best networks / channels to use, for example, why use Facebook when all your audiences are on LinkedIn?)

•    What conversations are taking place on them? (This will then help you determine the type of content you should be generating for your audiences and will make engaging with them easier)

•    How would you resource your online activities? (This depends on the quality of content needed and if it is already available)

One thing for certain is that, contrary to what many people say, social media isn’t free. Sure enough entry to market is cheap, but making sure it is effective and engaging requires thought, time and creativity.

I would also say that social media shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet. It can certainly help but as a consultancy that prefers an integrated approach, it should be used as part of a communications plan and not at the expense of other activities that help get your message out there. Certainly don’t leave traditional / offline PR out of the mix.

So in summary, don’t be frightened of social media but before taking the leap do an audit of the channels available to you and plan your content as this is the cornerstone of any successful campaign. If you are wondering what is ‘content’ it is the information you are making available. A good benchmark to use is would I share this and is it useful? In a nutshell your organisation should be providing rich content that your audiences can’t get anywhere else.

On a final point, consider your organisation’s culture as social media requires real time responses and if your posts need approval by 17 people, you may need to rethink your strategy.

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