In today’s market, many businesses are ready to jump on the social media wagon without asking questions. “Social media” has become this century’s “guerrilla marketing”: the words occupy a line on a communications plan without many people being informed on what exactly that entails. The buzz around the words have created a sense of comfort in strategy. “If we have social media, they will come,” seems to be the new age motto.
|Essential Ingredients of A Social Media Plan on Smartinsights.com|
But what is it that they are coming to? Before a company sets out to play the social media game, the need must be there. A simple scan of “how to write a social media plan” articles online will uncover the number one need: is it in your mission? As a company, must you communicate with your customers online using social media platforms? Will there be someone there to listen? To communicate back?
Not all companies need to be on social media platforms, especially if the customers are not there. For many, new platforms such as Facebook simply add on to the already strong presence on the web. For some, it is the only footprint they have on the web. Both sets of companies can successfully profit from customer relationships if they are fulfilling their missions as set up in their business planning. Social media should be thought of as a delivery tool for the true business plan.
I am not talking myself out of a social media writing career, but simply reassuring those that do not see a fit between their organization and social platforms. I am reminded of some organizations I have worked with in the past, who were insistent on having an online presence. One was an organization was a domestic violence support group that particularly wanted its members to be kept anonymous, and were prevented from discussing in detail their meeting times or advice. At the time, Facebook only had groups, which meant that any member of the group was mentioned in the followers were linked to the organization. Most of the members also had trouble accessing the internet, which made organizers weary of them when they went incommunicado. Clearly, it was not within their line of mission to create an open Facebook group listing events and meetings. The solution proposed was to keep news posts and events calendars on the group’s website, for the purpose of community outreach and donors. Communications with members was to be kept private.
For others, being kept out of the social media loop is marketing suicide. With any communication plan, businesses must keep in mind some primary objectives. When trying to determine your role in the social media game, the questions that need to be asked first include:
- What is our objective in communicating with our constituents?
- How can we reach them?
- Do we have the staff resources to maintain profiles and current content?
- After evaluation, did we reach the people we wanted to reach?
Maintaining this questioning and adjusting accordingly, whether you use social media or not, will create a successful communications plan.