Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What role does social media play? Part III

Use the technology deliberately
We definitely should be learning the tools out there today but no one tool is going to be the answer to your brand/career/networking/product/community issue. The tools are part of your plan, not your whole plan.

I hear many conversations debating the value of what social media tool and how to use it – but very few about why do this.

Whether you’re looking to promote brand, product, person, company or concept, if you build a strategic plan around the tools then your impact will never be as fulsome as possible or flexible enough to incorporate new widgets when they arrive. The ‘why’ is your governance against which you make decisions to grow, change or even start.

Part of the ‘why’ is because to not enter the social media arena is to declare oneself or one’s company hopelessly out of date. Part of the ‘why’ is because it’s dumb to ignore another means of reaching out.

Those are the givens.

What is left to you is to ask – what do I hope to achieve and what are all the tools I need to use to get there?

If you’re trying to build a community for seniors who have no regular computer access, you may leave out social media. If you’re trying to include their families, across all generations, you might.

If you’re trying to build your career in your current company, you might just focus on one/one meetings and your resume. Maybe it’s a small community best served by a personal approach and your LinkedIn profile would add little value. Or maybe you are trying to tap into those small communities as they exist around the world to find information to help your small local one.

If you’re casting your net very wide and have created an online persona/brand/product that has no other means of reaching out then you are possibly frustrated with results. If you’ve relied on word of mouth with no online presence then possibly the calls are not flooding in.

Just realize the social media itself won’t generate the real results – the quality behind the promotion will. Good intranets are about good content that helps folks understand corporate drivers, not just process outlines or happy stories. Good websites have good product as well as cool tools and visuals.

So use the tools – learn them – make them part of your larger plan but don’t have them be your plan.

Social media is all about access to information and the people behind that information. If you know what you’re seeking you can pick the right toolset to help your find it.

More on the next post…

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