5 Things to Consider Before Joining a Social Media Network

“We should get a LinkedIN page.”

“Why don’t we setup a Twitter and Instagram account?”

“Post THAT on Facebook!”

I’ve heard a combination of these comments about social media throughout my professional, volunteer, and personal interactions. Before I jump on the bandwagon and agree with any of these ideas, I encourage the team to step back a bit and consider the higher-level strategy and objectives that said social media platform would help achieve.

I’m not the only marketing professional to react this way.

In fact, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li have been promoting a four step planning process around social strategy since 2007 (in a 10/7/07 Forrester report “Objectives: The Key to Social Strategy” to be exact). I read about it in their book called Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies . While this report ten years old, the content is as relevant as ever today.

The planning process is called the POST method (people, objectives, strategy and technology). I’ve listed the steps below, adding my take and one additional step.

5 Things to Consider Before Joining a Social Media Network

  1. People: Who are you customers? What are they ready for? How are target customers using these social media sites? Will they want to engage with your company based on their current activity?
  2. Objectives: What are your goals? Are you using it for listening and research? Do you want to amplify your marketing message? Are you trying to capitalize on positive word of mouth from your most loyal customers? Will the platform have a customer service component?
  3. Strategy: “How do you want relationships with your customers to change? Do you want customers to help carry messages to others in your market?” How do you encourage and foster more engagement with your company?
  4. Technology: Given the responses to the first three steps, which platform or approach is most appropriate?
  5. Capacity: Do you have the capacity or resources to manage this social platform? Who will monitor, write and produce content for this platform? Is it just one person or a team? What training or resources will be required?

Ready to Launch?

Once your company has worked through all five steps, be sure that the main point person and / or team has an understanding on how the social media site works if you decide to manage it in-house. Develop a social media policy and guidelines. Create a process and calendar for managing content. There are numerous resources to help learn social media.  I highly recommend Social Media Examiner and the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk.

If you choose to outsource your social media management, be sure that the company has a thorough understanding of both the platform and your objectives. Discuss your company’s brand, voice and guidelines that you may want. Proper communication and planning are essential for achieving results.

As with any marketing, social media should be well-written, timely, and useful for your customers. Instead of diving right-in as a reactive approach, start with your customers, objectives, and strategy first to determine what social media network is right for your business.