Three things you can do today to get started in social media.
About two months ago, I wrote about training and the importance of developing your skills in social media as it applies to business. I'm currently leading a series of workshops for the American Marketing Association covering the application of social media to business. One central feature of this series is its hands-on nature: Some of the most exciting -- and challenging -- aspects of social media come when you actually put it to work. In that spirit, here are three things you can do today to kick-start your social media program.
Foremost on the list is listening to what people are saying about you. I'm not talking about monitoring but actually listening. Rohit Bhargava makes this point and refers to it as "active" listening: Not just tracking a conversation but thinking about what people are really talking about and how it relates across the departments that make up your larger organization -- and which together are responsible for and drive the conversations you've discovered.
It isn't surprising, then, that first item on your list today is to install a listening platform. Techrigy, Radian 6, Cymfony, and Collective Intellect all offer easy-to-implement solutions with core features like conversational analysis, trending, and workflow (allowing you to automatically send a post that references a defective product to your warranty services manager) that really make your life easier.
Business Objectives and Audience Profile
Number two on your "Get Started" list comes right out of Groundswell: get clear about your business objectives, what you are trying to accomplish, and what you are aiming at. Business objectives (or organizational goals for nonprofits) always come first. At least to a first approximation, if what someone in a marketing role is doing is not in some way driving the business, he probably ought not be doing it.
By starting with your business objectives, you get a second really big benefit, too, something that I note in my book "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day" you get your internal audience's attention. When championing social media, you may well find that not everyone knows what it is, and fewer still will actually have direct business experience with it. That sets you up for failure, as people with little knowledge are highly likely to pull out old clichés like the million-plus MySpace friend magnet "Tila Tequila" and seriously derail your presentation. Start with business objectives -- the business goals that everyone agrees on -- and you'll be pulling people into your presentation rather than giving them a reason to shoot it down.
One of the best -- and still free (as in no strings attached, not even registration) -- tools for marketers is Forrester's Profiler. A nod to Forrester Research is in order here. This tool is a real testament to the idea of the collective. The researcher has elected make its own data, something a lot of firms pay money for, available for free, in part so that anyone interested in understanding social media and applying it intelligently to business has an easier time of it. If everyone contributed something, how much richer would we all be? If you want a quick look at how the big segments in your audience are using (or not using) the social Web, look at the Profiler.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a Blog
With your business objectives defined and audience's behavior understood, it's time to step into the social Web. Look through the following list, then pick one and give it a try:
Taken together, these are three easy things you can start on today. You'll learn a lot about social media: prudent participation remains one of the best ways to get it when it comes to the social Web. You'll also create some real value for your company. And who knows: with organizations looking to become ever more efficient, being seen as an innovator in an important, emerging discipline might well pay off for you.
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Dave is the VP of social strategy at Lithium. Based in Austin, Dave is also the author of best-selling "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day," as well as "Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement." Dave is a regular columnist for ClickZ, a frequent keynoter, and leads social technology and measurement workshops with the American Marketing Association as well as Social Media Executive Seminars, a C-level business training provider.
Dave has worked in social technology consulting and development around the world: with India's Publicis|2020media and its clients including the Bengaluru International Airport, Intel, Dell, United Brands, and Pepsico and with Austin's FG SQUARED and GSD&M| IdeaCity and clients including PGi, Southwest Airlines, AARP, Wal-Mart, and the PGA TOUR. Dave serves on the advisory boards for social technology startups including Palo Alto-based Friend2Friend and Mountain View-based Netbase and iGoals.
Prior, Dave was a co-founder of social customer care technology provider Social Dynamx, a product manager with Progressive Insurance, and a systems analyst with NASA| Jet Propulsion Labs. Dave co-founded Digital Voodoo, a web technology consultancy, in 1994. Dave holds a BS in physics and mathematics from the State University of New York/ Brockport and has served on the Advisory Board for ad:tech and the Measurement and Metrics Council with WOMMA.
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