When it comes time to put together a social media strategy for your company, there are a few key steps you need to consider before getting started. Unfortunately, most companies bypass these steps and do everything in exactly the wrong order.

Their conversations usually go a little something like this:
Person 1: We need to get involved in social media.Person 2: You're right, how do we get started?Person 1: We need to build a Facebook page. Person 2: You're right, Joe put up a Facebook page for his company last year and he said they have more than 1,000 followers.Person 1: Ok, I'll get Maria on it this week.

Time passes....

Six months later:
Person 2: So how's that social media strategy doing?

Person 1: What?

Person 2: You know, the Facebook page you were going to have Maria build?

Person 1: Oh...yeah...let me check. [keyboard clicking] Looks like we have 127 fans!

Person 2: That's awesome! So...what's next?

Person 1: Um...

Yeah....that conversation has happened in office after office around the world in the last few years. Companies jump on board with social media because they hear buzz about it and think they have to get involved or because some C-level type reads an article about how social media is changing the face of marketing and they issue an order to start Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts and to start posting existing video files to YouTube.

The problem is that action without a desired outcome is generally pointless. If you walk out your front door with no destination in mind, you're likely to find yourself standing in the middle of a strange neighborhood too tired to get home. Worse, you may walk yourself right off a cliff.

If your social media efforts have been driven by "we need to do this" instead of being driven by "we need to accomplish X and social media will help us," you're wasting your time. Social media success rarely falls into a company's lap by accident. Social media success happens when you plan for it and executive a supportive strategy.

Ask yourself why you are involved in social media. Is it because you "have to be?" Is it because you want to be? Or is it because you understand how social media can help you reach specific goals and you are using it to support your company's growth?

If your answers are the former and not the latter, you need to sit down and think about the goals you have for your business in the next year. List them out and ask yourself how you might be able to use social media to accomplish them.

June 22, 2010

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


You make a very good point in this post. If a company doesn't understand why they should be using social media, all is lost. Thanks for the thoughts, I look forward to reading more!

It's funny how many companies do this. We "need" social media, but then they forget to be social, or never manage it. Small businesses and major corporations alike forget the value of connecting with people, and with social media, there is a new marketplace waiting to be captured.

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