I'd Tweeted enthusiastically last week about a meeting we'd had with our PR agency that focused on social media. After that a few people said to me in person "so it's for marketing, right?" The it's was referring to social media. I began to explain each time that it can be broader than that and I realized each time that people are in many cases equating social media as being Twitter and Facebook.
I thought I'd write a brief post to expand on some of my thoughts and the conversations I had last week. Firstly, social media is much more than just Twitter or Facebook. If you are developing a social media strategy you should be considering, in addition to Twitter and Facebook, other channels such as YouTube, wikis, Yammer, LinkedIN, blogs, podcasts and collaborative spaces such as Sharepoint or Basecamp. Your social media strategy should include social interaction both internal and external to your organization.
The other important aspect is not to get caught up in the "how?" - yes the channel is important but in my opinion, the channel is technology. You should never let technology define the business objectives. That is backwards. It should always be the business objectives that drive the technology. So too with social media - don't let the channel define the business objective. It will be ineffective. Instead, define your business objectives and then choose the channel that best fits. For example, I've listed below, several categories of what your business objectives might be (in a broad sense) and how that aligns to the various social media channels/technologies.
- Creation of Intellectual Capital: If you are trying to develop new ideas you can draw on internal and external groups through the use of things like wikis. Let the power of mass-ideas help to shape your own corporate process for the development of intellectual capital.
- Nurture Intellectual Capital: Once you got some initial ideas from the above step, you can use social media to nurture those ideas and help them develop. This happens in a collaborative space (for example with Sharepoint)
- Resource Intellectual Capital: Internally you can leverage Sharepoint as a knowledge base to connect you to internal resources. Externally, LinkedIn can facilitate access to industry resources that you can actively partner with or recruit.
- Deploy Intellectual Capital: You may then be ready to launch something, or introduce it to a group (full scale or in pilot mode). Now you can use social media to help promote it. Things like YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging are ideal for this. They can market the deployment but also help support it. You can also gain valuable feedback / input from user groups through these channels. Internal feedback can come through tools like Yammer.
- Metrics: If you don't measure something, it either never gets done, or you never get any value from it. Here social media can factor into your metric strategy for your programme or initiative. Here a tool like Twitter can be leveraged to measure responses by analyzing the social stream and people's input on your product/service/initiative/deployment.
So what is social media good for? Plenty! Much much more than just marketing and developing your brand. Used correctly, social media can provide you with an important plank in your overall business strategy.