Social Media Tip #1: Do Your Homework

social-media-54536_640The following is an excerpt from our ebook The Little Book of Social Media: 60 Ways to Create a Great Customer Experience. Get the Kindle version now or download the pdf.

1. Do your homework.
Before you jump into social media, there are a few questions you should consider to make sure it’s appropriate for your organization:

  • Is social media a good fit for your company?
    Companies in some industries, like financial services, often shy away from the
    regulatory challenges that arise when you have a direct, public dialogue with
    customers.
  • Are your company politics out of control?
    If every tweet must pass through a committee, you’re better off staying away.
    Customers can sense corporate bureaucracy and condescension.
  • Do you have calm, professional staff members who can manage your
    social media efforts
    ?
    You’ll need great communicators who can write clear, engaging content. And
    they’ll have to be professional enough to interact with thousands of customers.
  • Do you have the resources to keep up a sustained presence?
    Social media is an ongoing commitment that requires content strategy and curation as well as communication and monitoring. Depending on how many sites and platforms you use, you might need one or two full-time employees, or you may need to share the responsibilities among members of your team. You may want to invest in some vendor or consulting services to help you set up your accounts and/or buy software that helps you manage and analyze those accounts.
  • Can your current workflow support social media?
    Does your existing content and communications workflow have the flexibility to absorb social media content creation and review? For example, if you already have a writer, an editor, and a legal reviewer for your customer-related communications, can those resources be used to review social media as well?
  • Think about possible legal concerns. Talk with your legal team or, if you run a small company, consult a lawyer about your social media goals and what ways you might have to protect your business. For example, you might post community rules for your social fans and followers regarding the types of content they can post to your pages, or you might create guidelines for how your employees should create and promote social media content (see the rest of our tips for ideas!).

If you don’t have the time and resources to do social media right, don’t do it! It’s better to stay away than to risk damaging your company’s reputation. But if you think social media might be right for you, the next thing to consider is strategy.

We’ll talk more about social media strategy in our next post.

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