Social Media: Stop, Look and Listen

March 7th, 2013
Flickr: Paul G - the|G|tm

Flickr: Paul G - the|G|tm

Every day, my Google Reader is chock full of “how to” and “must do” articles especially when it comes to social media.  We read about how important it is to “engage with our audiences.” We hear that we must be “in the conversation.” We’re told that our brand will die if we don’t have a Facebook page – just kidding, but you get the idea.

I’d like to take a step back—back to the basics. I believe many of us got onto social media sites because we thought that was the thing to do. While that may be somewhat true, some may need to re-think why they are there; and, surprisingly (to those of us in the biz), there are a whole lot of businesses and organizations that are just now getting into social media. So, let’s talk about what you should do before making that leap (or if you want to re-evaluate why you’re there).

One thing it seems a lot of folks miss is that before you start posting, purporting, and professing in social media, you should stop, look, and listen. Just like we were taught as kids before crossing the road.  Here is a partial list of things to look and listen for:

Track your competitors.

  • Who is saying what?
  • What platform(s) are most popular in these exchanges?

Observe industry issues/trends.

  • What is being talked about?
  • Where are they talking

Monitor your own company/organization/issues

  • Who’s talking? Are these people in my target audience or are they influencers of you target audience?
  • What are they saying?
  • Where are most of the conversations happening?
  • When are these dialogues taking place?
  • What does your company want to achieve in social media?

Once you have the answers to these questions, then you can make an educated decision about whether you need to simply have a passive presence or need to be actively involved and on what platforms. In this way, you are able to create a plan of action and decide how to best allocate resources.

As Seth Godin says, “It’s a process, not an event.” Social media is not something you should just jump in and “wing it.” It takes time, commitment and resources to be done right.

What tips would you offer someone who feels intimidated or tentative about using social media channels?

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