Considering the reluctance some companies have to adopting any form of social media, you’d think we’d celebrate any company who “dives in headfirst” and “learns as they go.”


As much as we love the idea of a client being willing to think on their feet and adapt on the fly, there are a number of steps we’d advise any company to invest in before they ever post a blog or send a tweet.

And you might be even more surprised to learn that most of these steps don’t involve a computer; they involve understanding goals, language and intentions.

8 Questions to Ask Before You “Dive Into” Social Media

1. What’s the end goal? Do you want to increase sales?  Improve public opinion?  Raise awareness?  Gauge customer sentiment?  Too many companies create social media outposts and then ask, “now what?”  Unless everyone involved in planning and executing your social media campaign is working toward the same goal(s), you’ll never be able to direct your efforts effectively.

2. How will success be measured? Are you focusing primarily on sales data?  Traffic?  Click-throughs?  Positive press?  Consumer mentions?  As with step #1, if you’re not all looking at the same metrics, you won’t all be able to agree on what’s working — or why.

3. Who needs approval? Will every blog post you write and every tweet you send require approval from multiple layers of management?  In the event of an emergency, is there a streamlined version of that chain of command that first responders can utilize to circumvent a red tape quagmire?

4.  What’s the official voice of our brand? Some companies thrive on being personal.  Others demand professionalism and objectivity in all forms.  Anyone who’s acting as “the voice of the company” needs to understand the range of that voice, in order to avoid statements and phrasing that feel “out of character” for the brand.

5.  How often will data be collected? If you don’t know how your efforts are being perceived and acted upon by the recipients of your messaging, you won’t know what’s working and what needs to be tweaked.  But if all you do is analyze data, you’ll slip into the strategy trap.  Agreeing on an acceptable frequency for data analysis helps keep everyone sane and focused.

6.  How often will we reconsider our process? Some of your ideas will work better than others.  Sometimes you’ll have lucky breaks; other times, you’ll be outshined by someone else’s better story.  Taking the “long view” in analyzing your goals and data will allow you to base your future adjustments on better-contextualized results, rather than your own knee-jerk reactions.

7.  How elastic is the budget? Social media is an ever-changing field.  What works today may not work tomorrow, and the tools you’ve invested in may become outclassed or obsolete.  Likewise, areas in which you’re minimally invested may turn out to bear more fruit than you initially expected.  How much elasticity and discretion will your team have to adapt your plan on the move, or are the decisions you’re making now expected to last until your next budget analysis?

8.  Where do we start? You can’t wake up tomorrow with a fully-functional presence on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, WordPress and Delicious.  Every channel you’re investing in takes time to establish, grow and curate.  Which tools are the most important for achieving your immediate goals, and in which order do you need to get them up to speed?  Because if you spread yourself too thin, nothing works.

Got all that?  Great; now you can start making plans.

Have questions?  Email us; we make our living providing answers.

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