Recipe for Social Media Success

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While it’s easier than ever to start a social media strategy, it can be difficult to make the strategy yield results for the organization. This article, published in Mass High Tech, provides a recipe for social media success.

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Recipe for Social Media Success

  1. 1. Recipe for Social Media Success By Maya Townsend, Partnering Resources, and Amin Marts, Artifact3 Thursday, July 2, 2009 Entrepreneur Paul Trevithick says, “We always customer service. Today, Zappos is a Twitter get the technology right and the sociology exemplar. Over 680,000 people follow the wrong.” In other words, we’re great at installing company, rave about its products, and receive new software and hardware solutions. But how quick responses to their questions. often do we implement solutions that people never use to their potential? Aligning a social media strategy with organizational goals helps ensure its longevity Today, with more attention being paid to social and fit with corporate culture. Step two is networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and aligning strategy with the target audience’s LinkedIn, it’s tempting to sign up and start preferences and content consumption habits. contributing. Unfortunately, success is not so Different groups prefer different media. For easy. Less than 25 percent of online example: communities have more than 1,000 members, even though more than half of those businesses • 55 percent of Facebook users are age 25 have spent more than $1 million on their and younger (Prophetic Media, February community projects, according to Ed Moran of 2009). Deloitte. • Twitter’s largest demographic is 35-to-44 year olds (Time magazine). The Right Technology for Your Company • Adults are interested in online discussion forums where they can discuss a company’s While it’s easier than ever to trade ideas and products, while youth prefer profiles of their communicate across organizational boundaries, favorite brands on sites like MySpace and it can be difficult to choose the right application Facebook (Forrester Research Inc.). and make it work for your company. Defining • Only 16 percent of those who read company organizational goals is step one in the process blogs say they trust them, while 60 percent of choosing the right technology. For instance, a trust consumer products and reviews goal to increase revenue suggests a different (Forrester). kind of technology with respect to a goal to spur the sharing of knowledge. If a company wants to encourage 40-something prospective customers to learn about its product, Twitter enthusiast and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh online discussion forums and customer has explained that corporate culture was the feedback sites might be the best bet. To get the goal behind his use of Twitter. He has said that buzz out among 18-to-25 year-olds about a new company culture is Zappos’ top priority, and that product, Facebook might be the right tool. if they get the company culture right, “most of the other stuff (including great customer service) Making New Media Work will happen on its own.“ Once the company sets goals and identifies the For Hsieh, Twitter was a natural way to target audience, how does it gain value from encourage aspects of the culture he wanted to new technologies? develop: transparency, connection, and
  2. 2. 1. Set realistic expectations. When this happens, it’s time to listen and support. Some enter into the world of social media with overly ambitious goals that can lead to Maya Townsend of Partnering Resources helps disappointment. Sorry to say, most companies build aligned, adaptable, collaborative probably won’t gain as many followers on Twitter organizations. She can be reached at as Ashton Kutcher or increase sales 100 percent maya@partneringresources.com. in six months through their online community. But there are measurable, concrete benefits to Amin Marts of Artifact3 designs collaboratively- be gained from social media. Setting modest inclined applications focused on maintaining, goals, particularly in the first year of disseminating, and sharing information between experimentation and discovery, helps ensure individuals and organizations. He can be that early disappointment won’t lead to reached at amarts@artifact3.com. abandoning the social media strategy prematurely. 2. Find the early adopters. Some in every company are already using social media in their personal and work lives. Find those enthusiastic users and get them on board as the organization’s social media pioneers. Give them direction, then let them loose to innovate. Their instincts and creativity will help blaze the path and generate innovative ideas about how social media can benefit the company. 3. Loosen control. There really isn’t a way to gain value from social media without sharing information. By sharing information, early adopters may inadvertently challenge company norms about information exchange, product development, or customer service. They’ll need flexibility and support as they figure out how to tune the social media strategy to not only fit the company, but make it better. To avoid putting the company in an untenable situation or shutting down early adopters, set up guidelines about what absolutely cannot be shared. Make sure early adopters can adhere to those guidelines. That way, the company encourages creativity while protecting intellectual property. 4. Listen. Soon, early adopters will discover what works and what doesn’t. They’ll have ideas, excitement, and energy to take the next steps.

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