Getting Started in Social Media, Part 1

There is enough talk about Social Media these days that nearly every company has heard of it, and made a decision about it. These decisions can be lumped into 4 categories
a) Embrace it
b) Ban it
c) Do nothing /Wait and see
d) Test it

I am focusing here on the organizations who would answer “C” or “D”.

So let’s say that you work for a company (perhaps large, perhaps a one man shop) and you’ve heard about using social media for business, and on a personal basis you like using Facebook and YouTube. In your company there have been a few (perhaps contradicting) discussions about social media, and overall it sounds like a good idea, but you still can’t quite define it and you don’t know where to start.

Let’s start with borrowing from Brian Solis, for a definition of Social Media:
“Social media is democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism, one-to-many, to a many-to-many model, rooted in the conversations between authors, people and peers.”

So what does that mean? Among other things it means that instead of just Marketing/PR/Advertising people telling the world about you company…now your customers and other employees are too.

That may sound scary, but the reality is that, most likely they have been doing this for years. Now you can observe and join the conversation.

The first thing to do is to get buy-in from at least one executive.  Without this kind of support, you are going to be running your head (and possibly) your career into a number of roadblocks.

So once you’ve got an ally high up in the company, what do you do?  Run out and sign up for as many website as possible???  NO!

The next thing to do is to make a plan.  What are you goals?  Who are your users?  How do you want the company to be perceived?  Are you trying to solve a problem, or just trying to get your name out?  What is your current user experience like?  What is your current level of customer support?  How will you empower employees to use social media?

If during steps 1 and 2 you didn’t start to read “Engage” by Brian Solis and/or Jerimiah Owyang’s blog make one or both of those items step #3.

All that, and you still haven’t made your first corporate tweet.  There is more to getting started in Social Media than you might think, at least if you want to avoid being on a list like these:

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