social-media“Social media” has become such a popular buzz word today… From board rooms to everyday conversations, you’ll not go without hearing those words several times. And yes that has also led to  every organization jumping onto the bandwagon – creating groups on facebook, linkedin, twitter, posting videos on youtube, pictures on flickr, starting blogs and so on. However, the lack of strategy and design on part of organizations makes this entire experience chaotic and a sloppy implementation in most cases adds more burden for the marketing folks with no significant ROI in sight.

While big corporations shell out thousands if not millions to employ consultants who put both the plan and hopefully the implementation in place, non-profits and smaller enterprises with half-baked knowledge scramble to put something in place with hardly any success.  This post will try to address both the plan and an easy implementation strategy for social media tools. Although I won’t go much into details, you can ping me for further clarifications or questions if any…

Social Media Strategy & Plan

The first major step even before you start signing up on different social sites is to plan and design your Social Media strategy. A proper plan helps in several things:

  1. Defines your objectives and what you want to achieve (sign up more members?, spread the word?, monitor consumer feedback/opinion? etc.)
  2. Helps you identify where your audience is and what type of content they are interested in (useful for engaging them)
  3. Helps you identify which social media platforms to leverage (linkedin?, facebook?, myspace?, youtube?, blogs? twitter?)  and what kind of structure to create on some of those platforms (groups? subgroups? individual blogs? syndicated blogs from members? etc)
  4. Defines what metrics to track to evaluate your success (engagement?, member conversion ratio?, reach?)

Without a good plan in place  Social Media cannot be exploited to its fullest potential and will just remain a buzz word in the end – Yes, we are on everything but don’t know what else to do.

Social Media Implementation

The second step, where I’ll probably focus more on,  is the integration of social media platforms. Since most platforms are either closed or have their limitations, this integration may not be ideal but it is the easiest and most efficient (there goes a startup idea – integrate all these and sell a  single platform). Even a non-techie can put this together without much effort.

integrating social media

The entire setup as shown above is automated, in the sense that whatever you post on your blogs (announcements, events, pictures or videos) will automatically get synced and sent out to your audiences on the major platforms today. While the image is self-explanatory, I’ll briefly list out the steps involved:

  1. Create Blog account, Youtube and/or Flickr: Based on what content you want to push, create all the accounts needed. If you don’t want to create a specific blog, you can also use personal blogs from select members of your organization and syndicate them as explained in 2.
  2. Syndicate all feeds using Yahoo Pipes: No matter what service you use today, it will have an RSS feed. Integrate all these feeds to get a combined RSS feed. Why a single feed you ask? Because it is easy to manage and facebook accepts only a single feed. If you need more information on using yahoo pipes contact me.
  3. Create LinkedIn Group and Import RSS Feed into it: Go to the News Tab in your LinkedIn group and import the RSS feed provided by Yahoo Pipes. Whenever there is a new post, LinkedIn recognizes activity and automatically sends out a periodical email to everyone in your group. So your audience is engaged without your involvement. An important thing to remember on LinkedIn is the name of your group. If the objective is to recruit new people, make your group’s name descriptive and attractive (acronyms won’t help much).
  4. Create a Facebook Fan Page and Import RSS Feed into it: If you are an organization, create a Page on Facebook not a group. A page gives you the functionality of a group with many more features, most importantly  the ‘Notes’ using which you can import all your RSS feed. You can also add other applications just like you add to your profile and monitor visitor statistics (thats your metrics). FB Page also integrates with twitter, so all your activity is automatically pushed to your twitter account. FB page is slightly buggy and the RSS import into Notes is convoluted. To import RSS Feed into your Facebook Page, follow instructions from here.
  5. Create your Twitter account and integrate with Facebook: Twitter integration is seamless through your facebook page. Just follow the steps on facebook. You can push the entire activity including status messages, events and more from facebook to twitter (without having to visit/use twitter separately).
  6. Embed the syndicated RSS on your website: You can also embed the syndicated feed from Yahoo Pipes on your website. Contact me if you want to enable this.

That is pretty much it! Post your blogs and see your engagement go up on all the platforms. Evaluate your metrics to see how you are performing and tweak the type or frequency of content you push out.

To learn more about leveraging twitter read
The hype about Twitter and how you can be a part of it – The 7 Tips!

To learn more about my views on Enterprise 2.0 read
Enterprise 2.0 – Please for heaven’s sake it is NOT Facebook & Twitter…