The 5 W’s to Entering Social Media

 There’s no denying that social media is becoming a larger part of overall marketing strategies for companies of all sizes and types.  If you haven’t created a Facebook fan page, or a Twitter account or blog, chances are you’re considering it.  Here are the 5 W’s you need to cover before you do – ignoring them could spell social disaster for your company.

 

 

  • Why do you want to enter into social media?  Just as with all other new initiatives, it’s important to go in with concrete goals in mind.  “Because everyone else is in it” isn’t enough of a reason – you need to identify exactly what you hope to achieve.  Is it a branding play?  A way to enhance your customer service?  Are you looking to drive email signups?  Webinar registrations?  Site visits?  Knowing what you are trying to accomplish in advance will help you measure your success later on.

 

  • Who are you going to be?  You’ll need to determine the kind of tone you want to present to the public, and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.  Are you funny and irreverent?  Serious?  It’s important to pick a persona, and stick with it across all platforms – it will help users identify you.  You also need to use the same username or ID across platforms – make it as easy as possible for users to find you wherever they are, and try to use the same avatar. 

 

  • Where are you going to connect with your audience?  This is where you need to dig in and understand the benefits and downsides of each platform.  Having your goals identified in advance will come in handy here – compare them to the features of each platform, and see if they match up.  It’s also important to take a look and see where people are discussing your brand already – there’s little value in joining a social network where nobody knows who you are, or worse yet – doesn’t care.

 

  • What are you going to say?  You want to be the main driver of the conversation about your brand.  So it’s time to sit down and figure out an editorial calendar.  This is the part that scares most companies – how to come up with enough content to feed multiple platforms.  It shouldn’t.  You can leverage the same content across a number of platforms – it’s just a matter of understanding which pieces of it fit where.  Beyond just pushing out info, you’ll have to become part of the conversations already happening, by listening to what other users have to say and replying in a genuine way.  This is also the stage where you need to create the rules of engagement – who will be in charge of engaging on these platforms, and what they are and aren’t allowed to say. 

 

  • When are you going to enter the social media world?  Not before you’ve finished the other 4 W’s.  Beyond that, though, is there a specific event that you want to use as your launch point?  It can be helpful to begin that way, especially if there is a strong conversation happening about the event.