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02/10/2011 Your Social Media Checklist Isn’t Enough

Over the last year or two, your company wanted to jump into social media. You listened to the experts, read the articles, highlighted the five or ten things you read that you needed to do in order to succeed in social media and off you went. You probably created a checklist.

  1. Create a social media strategy (or at least an idea of what you wanted to accomplish). Check.
  2. Create a social media policy (optional). Check.
  3. Scout out the competition and listen to online chatter about your company. Check.
  4. Put together a content plan or editorial calendar. Check.
  5. Find, hire or train someone to manage your social media channels. Check.
  6. Start gathering or writing content and connecting with key people in the business. Check.
  7. Set up your social media channels. Check.
  8. Set up your monitoring channels. Check.
  9. Start publishing, responding and connecting. Check.
  10. Measure what’s happening. Check.

And…success, right? Well usually, no. Unfortunately, having a checklist won’t guarantee success at all unless you're lucky enough to work at a highly visible and buzzed about brand. It will guarantee that you will have a list of accomplishments for you and your team to show your superiors around annual review time. 

However, nothing in the above checklist guarantees success since it lacks a focus on customers and relevance.

The biggest mistake companies make is talking too much about themselves. They make the mistake of trying to please a small group of inside the company. There are ways to see if any of this is working, and then work to change it. That change usually involves shifting your focus to a more customer oriented approach, aimed at either helping people or providing information they crave.

  1. Does anyone comment, like or retweet your articles? If you post the links on Facebook or Twitter, does anyone click or comment on it? If not maybe your editorial calendar needs to change. Finding out what people really want to read about is a lot harder than writing something that’s easy to produce. It might mean you need to find someone who’s a good writer rather than the person who knows the most. Too bad. Success means working hard.
  2. Look at your Facebook wall. Is it all you? Or do you see comments and posts by your fans as much and more than you’re posting yourself? If it’s the former (which is pretty common) that tells you that no one really cares that much about what you’re posting. Yes, lurkers exist and consume content. But social is about connection and dialogue. If your wall is all about you, then stop being so self-centered. Reach out to your followers and engage them in a discussion about what your social channels should do.
  3. Are your follower levels stuck at low levels, even though you have a ton of employees and customers? That’s usually because you haven’t tried hard enough to integrate your social channels with the rest of your business. You need to have regular and strong connection to your customer support, product, marketing and sales teams. You need to find out what they need and offer social as a way to help them. Then you need to ask them to point people to the social channels in return. It usually works pretty well.
  4. Is the person responsible for your social efforts stuck in his office with his door closed? Does he not have personal skills and is disconnected to his social media world, both in your vertical and locally? Does he feel uncomfortable connecting with others in the company? If so, you’ve probably found someone who has the time to do the work, but doesn’t (yet) have the aptitude or skills. It won’t get better by itself. You have to either train your people and set clear expectations on behavior, or find someone new.

Checklists are easy because you can do them without thinking too much. Social is hard because it involves real contact with real people, both inside the company and outside in the real world. Checklists are neat, social is messy.

It’s good that you used your checklist to launch your social initiative. Now it’s time for the real work. But don’t worry; it’s never too late to change or for success.



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