When a client comes to us wanting to enter the social media realm, their excitement (and ours, honestly) can overshadow the first step to building an online community—developing the strategy and philosophy behind interactions in social media. Businesses sometimes rush into it because “that’s where everyone else is” without taking a step back to evaluate how social media fits their business model. As an agency, we take our advisory position seriously by asking the important questions:
• What is your reason for engaging customers online? (We’ve received some pretty interesting answers to this question, including “getting more fans than our competitors” – but we encourage clients to go beyond this and consider how they’ll build and connect with a community of followers.)
• Who is your audience?
• Where is your audience most active online? How do you know this?
Although it may seem like a rigid approach to something that is typically considered a free-flowing medium, our questions were recently justified by an inspired presentation titled “Social Strategy: Getting Your Company Ready” by Jeremiah Owyang and Charlene Li of Altimeter (see below for full presentation). In it, they state that:
“To be successful using social technologies, companies must first prepare and align internal roles, processes, policies and stakeholders with their business objectives. Social business is a profound change that impacts all departments in the organization.”
They go on to support this statement with a number of best practices and an impressive social media triage flow chart (which is now hanging on my wall).
So, what role does strategy play in social media? We would argue that it’s the foundation – and it’s good to know we’re not alone.