Baltimore NetSquared organizer Kate Bladow recently convened a social media strategy-focused event. Here are her notes and the presenter's slides.
Jessica Keyes, Digital Strategy Coordinator at Enoch Pratt Free Library, explained social media best practices and suggested practical implementations for using social media to forward brands and strengthen marketing and fundraising.
Social media can be overwhelming. It's easy to feel like your voice is lost among the many calling for attention, like you are alone in the desert, or even like you don't know where to start. You need to figure out who will share what with whom. Strategy can help you figure this out and allow you to be more intentional, efficient, and effective.
Jessica suggested focusing on four areas: goals, accountability, metrics, and procedures.
Your first step is to figure out why you want to use social media. A few helpful questions:
Who do you want to reach?
What do you want to communicate to them?
Where will you reach them?
What change do you want to see?
For each of these questions, it's helpful to ask "Why?" three times to drill down. For example, if you want to reach donors, ask yourself:
"Why?" Because we want to share information about the library with them.
"Why?" Because we want them to give more money.
"Why?" Because we want them to support the children's reading program.
When choosing a platform, think carefully about which ones you want to use. (Jessica set out an excellent chart in her slides.) It's helpful to examine how other organizations and business are using the tools.
One or more people can be responsible for creating and posting content. They don't necessarily have to be the executive and other directors, but they do have to have the authority to make decisions about voice, tone, and messaging. They also need to understand the organization's mission and the audience. You do want to avoid having a lengthy approval process for posting content.
There are a few decisions you should make ahead of time.
Decide what type of voice your organization will use. For example, your organization might want to be friendly and approachable or authoritative and knowledgeable.
Identify what is appropriate to post. This helps others know when they should be taking photos or creating other content.
Figure out how you will engage with the community. Does your organization want to engage or do you simply want to share information? What questions will your organization answer? What types of answers are appropriate to give?
Before you collect any metrics, you need to decide what success looks like. Based on that, you can choose to collect the metrics that tell you whether or not you have succeeded and over what time frame you will collect the data.
In addition to thinking about success and what metrics to collect, it is helpful to thinking about what failure is and what it means for the project. For example, if you've specified that success is getting new 400 Twitter followers during the next six months and you only get 300 new follwers, is that failure?
You will want to document common procedures. Specifically, how will you handle negative comments and at what point will the people in charge of crisis communications take over? Jessica referenced the latest social media scandal as an example of what happens if you haven't put the appropriate procedures in place. Applebees fired an employee for posting a photograph of a bill. People complained on social media, and Applebee's response to these complaints made the situation worse.
A Few Additional Thoughts
To make your strategy successful, you need to find your advocates. They can help you convince others to use social media on behalf of your organization.
Share your numbers. Enoch Pratt shares their numbers (page views, followers, number of posts) in their internal annual report.
Use current events as a launching point. You can stay aware of what is happening by using Google Alerts or creating Twitter lists broken out by industry areas or other topics.