Five things you must do to manage your Social Media

March 2, 2010 at 9:36 am 1 comment

I’ve devoted the last ten months to learning about social media. I’m mostly interested in knowing how it can be used efficiently and effectively in business. What I’ve figured out so far is that it takes a healthy dose of self-discipline . . . and a strategy. With a desire to find a way to make social media practical enough to use as a business tool, I set out to identify five actions — not too many, not too few — that would drive and support that strategy.

The first challenge was to overcome the novelty of social media that had the effect of pulling most of us in before we were ready. Being ready means having a plan: a singular, well-defined objective accompanied with a checklist and timeline for achieving it. I just finished reading (and outlining and notating) Marketo’s Definitive Guide to B2B Social Media. It reinforced much of what I had already been reading, and validated the content of my most recent presentation:  Social Media – Closing the Gap Between “How” and “Why.” What it got me to do though, was break my own strategy into manageable steps with short-term measurable goals.

Using the worksheets in the Marketo document, along with my own conversation index and communication plan (two elements of my business strategy), I was able to identify distinct action items and metrics to guide my approach to social media. This structure is helping to remove some of the guesswork and give me a sense of purpose when it comes to using social media.

I would recommend that the following five actions be taken in this order.

  1. Articulate a singular, well-defined objective. Without it, you’ll be like a bag blowing in the breeze; a ball bearing bouncing in a boxcar.  My objective:   To establish my reputation as a resource and as an advocate for using social media in business.
  2. Choose the right tools – I’m limiting myself to two primary social media tools to reach my intended audience. (I told you this takes self-discipline.) Twitter and my blog will serve as hubs. The other six tools in my arsenal – Facebook profile, Facebook page, LinkedIn, SlideShare, YouTube and Flickr – will be used as outposts to carry content that, for the most part, reflects the conversations on Twitter and in my blog.

  3. I chose my hub tools based on the type of audience I want to reach ( “Social Media – Now? or Never!”, slide 9). My social media, in addition to my e-newsletter and website, will allow me to reach the various strata of the relationship cycle defined in my business strategy. Each of these tools has measurable qualities I can use to assess my progress.

  4. Manage your network – Over the past 10 months I intentionally grew my network of friends, fans, followers and connections organically and slowly. Again, my initial purpose for using social media was to learn. I was more intent on following and listening than being heard. That strategy is now paying off as I’m about to embark on the process of segmenting and sorting. Although I’m shifting from my initial objective of learning to a new objective of talking (establishing my reputation) and will strive to increase the size of my networks, I still want to maintain a standard of high-quality connections.

  5. If I use discretion based on a set of pre-determined criteria when engaging with people through social media, I will get more value out of the conversations, can be more confident that my contributions will be appropriate and perceived as valuable (as opposed to out-of-context, and God forbid, boring). I won’t struggle to come up with helpful and interesting content. By handpicking my connections (to the degree they can be handpicked) I can be more natural and spontaneous with my comments and responses.

  6. Cull and collect content – To say that the amount of information available on any given subject is overwhelming is an understatement. Managing the information – much like managing the networks through which the information flows – requires a system. With a singular, well-defined objective as the basis for that system, I am able to quickly identify the information I need to drive my strategy. Because I have identified blogs as one of my primary tools, for the short-term anyway, I will focus my information gathering efforts on blogs. Limiting my information-mining efforts to this one distinct area will benefit my overall strategy in several ways:
    1. It will enhance my learning experience (my original objective for using social media) by eliminating the distracting task of having to decide where to go to get my information.
    2. The vastness of the blogosphere can hardly be seen as “limited,” so I don’t have to be too concerned about isolating myself from useful or interesting input.
    3. It will give me the opportunity to engage by commenting on others’ blogs. I will not only be getting information, I’ll be contributing. This directly supports my objective.
  7. Create valuable content – To borrow a phrase from Stephen Covey, by choosing to blog as one of my main social media initiatives, I will be “sharpening the saw.” Writing things down has always made ideas more concrete and actionable for me. Writing, in general, is therapeutic and relaxing. Blogging, on the other hand, presents a challenge – mainly because I have been without focus. However, I imagine that with this new plan, blogging will be less of a challenge and more of an investment resulting in growth and renewal. With a clear objective for blogging, I expect it will soon feel more like second nature.

  8. Through blogging I’ll be able to process and develop all the information about social media that I’m absorbing. I’ll aim to organize my thoughts and express them in ways that make sense to my targeted audience. I’ll be documenting my own path with intent to clear the way for others who want to explore the same direction. At the same time, I’ll be creating a collection of cohesive, relevant thoughts that can Tweeted, packaged as bites in a newsletter article, highlighted on my Fan Page, and used in LinkedIn status updates.

The picture at the top of this blog represents part of the process that brought me to this plan. It’s all about turning ideas into action. For me, that means one step at a time. Over the past ten months I have taken many measured and mostly-steady steps. I encourage you to do the same, and would love to hear your ideas and know what has worked for you along the way.


Entry filed under: Business, Social Media, Strategy. Tags: , , .

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