We’ve talked somewhat extensively in the last month or two about social media in our blogs, what we offer our clients in terms of social media services and other odds and ends along the way. Personally, I never understood until I started working in the Trademark Productions office why businesses would want to invade the social media world. It’s social. It was made for everyday people like us in order to be social, not sell us another product. We get enough of that just waiting for a movie to start these days.

On the other hand, even I have to admit that companies that have a social media presence offer some unique opportunities. The main one that comes to mind is the chance to interact with them and share opinions or suggestions about a product or service that might have a chance of getting back to the people who make the business decisions. That, however, is only going to be as successful as the planning that went into why they have a social media presence in the first place.

If you happen to be a company on the cusp of entering the social media realm or you already did and yielded minimal results, here’s what you might want to consider. First and foremost, set goals. What is it you are hoping to get out of it? What is your purpose for existing there? Furthermore, do you know who in your company is going to be responsible for understanding these goals and making sure they’re accomplished?

A very common mistake is for a company to generate the idea of jumping into social media and then passing the buck to people who don’t understand why it’s being done, don’t have the tools or understanding to make it work and who are then essentially set up to fail. Mixed messages are a huge cause of this. The owner states that the goal will be A, B and C, then it filters on down and pretty soon D, E and F are added by others who feel the need to interject their own opinions. Not good and everybody needs to be on the same page.

The second thing that needs to happen is making sure you have the resources, usually time, manpower and know-how. The right people in the right place all communicating with the time available to do what they need to do is paramount. Anything else usually ends up coming out, if you’ll pardon the phrase, half-assed. Communication itself is worth mentioning at this juncture because these folks will need to be keeping everybody else in the loop as to what’s going on. Coordination is key and you’ll be surprised at how closely some of your people will be working together as the social media project progresses.

Finally, and this has really come into importance during the last year and a half or so, it helps to have a social media policy for your company. Why? If employees are putting information out there about your company as a part of their job, then it’s your right to make sure they are doing it in accordance to how you want it portrayed as well as what information will and won’t be made public. It’s a business and they are getting paid to be online during business hours, therefore you have the right to monitor what they are doing and employees need to be aware of this. Second, it also lets your employees know the dos and don’ts of what they can express in terms of not opening your company up to claims of sexism, racism etc.

This all probably sounds like a great deal of work and you may be wondering if it’s worth the effort. Several companies have had very good luck in the social media world. It’s not all about sell sell sell and those who have embraced that concept, set up very specific goals to accomplish and freed up the resources necessary to make the campaign a go have come away with more than they expected.

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