A Tip for Tuesday – Forget about the “tool” and figure out the strategy

I originally wrote this article for the Phoenix Business Journal, where it appeared on July 6th. 
Nothing has transformed our ability to communicate our messages like social media.  Sure, being able to fax a document was pretty handy and certainly the ability to share information via email made getting the information out much easier and quicker.  But social media has given everyone, and I mean everyone, the power to be a communicator, a marketer, a critic.  I would argue that this is a good thing – but like all good things, we need to manage it correctly or it gets out of hand.
In the early phases of social media, when we talked about “the” Facebook and “that” Twitter, professional communicators, although likely to have personal accounts, hadn’t quite seen the value of how it would be used in a strategic sense.  Slowly as we got more accustomed to them and they played a bigger role in the way we shared information, we started considering them as a tool for business.  And that’s about it – as a tool.
Truth is, these very powerful tools require just as much of a strategic plan as any other form of marketing communications.  You would never just send out a news release-you’d think about the content, what was the messaging, who in the media should receive it, what’s the follow-up and ultimate outcome you’re looking for.
There is no doubt that successful businesses recognize the power of social media.  Where we need to be now is discussing how social media will be incorporated into your organization’s overall communications and marketing strategy.  It is not enough to simply start a Facebook fan page or a Pinterest page.  You need to spend some time considering why you utilize these tools and what you hope to accomplish with it.  Perhaps for your business a blog may be a better digital tool or maybe a focus on Yelp will be more effective.
Furthermore, you must consider what kind of image you want to accomplish in the social space.  It isn’t enough to have several thousand fans of your Facebook page – what are those fans doing with the content you are providing?  Are they interacting with you, are they sharing across their online networks.  I’d rather have 50 engaged fans than 500 that do nothing with my information.
The tools are going to change. Consumers voluntarily become fans or followers of your brands in the social space.  You can’t control when they come or go.  But what you can control is the content and information they will see and interact with when they are engaged with you.  And when you focus on the content and strategy, you’ll find success, no matter what the tool.

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at Jul 17, 2012

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