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It’s been said time and time again for a business to succeed in social media, they need to understand their customers.  Designing and incorporating a strategy for social media isn’t a checklist, it’s an evolution.  Jumping in and talking is fine if  you are a person, but as a company, there are some things to consider first.

  1. It’s important to understand the culture of  the platforms you are interested in engaging on.  Fark or Digg has an entirely different persona than LinkedIn.  If you are interested in talking to college-humored males with a penchant for Photoshopping funny pictures – Fark and Digg are the place for you (hey, they spend a lot of money…)  Looking for sales professionals?  LinkedIn is where you need to be.  Know your audience, know your platform.
  2. Don’t start with the technology – start with the goals.  Just this week a project came across our desk from a company looking to enter social media. They had already determined what technology and social media sites they wanted to be on, without having the slightest idea who they wanted to talk to, what they wanted to talk about, and who actually hangs out on these sites.  Backwards.  Goals first, tactics second.
  3. Don’t just talk about your business.  Be a person first and have fun.  While it seems counter productive to chit-chat about personal items on company time, the fact that you present yourself as a human being goes a long way to building trust.  No one is saying tell everyone what you eat for lunch every day, but sharing some volunteer efforts your company engages in or publicly thanking co-workers for decorating your office (and sharing a quick picture) for your birthday shows you aren’t just about the end sale.
  4. You have to be a listener, not just a broadcaster.  Ever take part in a conversation where the other person talks about themselves for 20 minutes, and when you finally get a word in, they are gazing over your shoulder looking for the next person to pitch to?  Try practicing ‘active listening‘ on the social channels before starting to start your own agenda.
  5. Does it blend?  How does social media fit with your entire PR & Marketing plan?  Social media marketing is a subset of a larger comprehensive plan to launch your company into a new era of customer communication. Abandoning everything that’s worked in favor of something you know little about is a guaranteed failure.  Stick with what works, and add to it.