Wednesday, June 10

Selecting Tools: Social Media For Business

The most common question communicators ask about social media is which tools, if any, are best suited for their companies. At least, that seemed to be the consensus among communicators attending the International Association of Business Communicators' (IABC Las Vegas) "Six in Sixty" program last week.

While there seems to be a general propensity to lead companies to the most popular social media tools, platforms, and communities, I provided an alternative solution for attendees with the premise that the long tail of social media need not always wag the company dog. During the 10-minute presentation, I shared a small deck to reinforce key points for three very different organizational needs: B2B, B2C, and nonprofit.

While there were strategic communication objectives for all three organizations, the simplified answer (given that each speaker had ten minutes) is that most are best served by considering two critical questions. 1. What communication assets do or will they have? 2. What tools, platforms, networks, and communities do their publics tend to use?

For a niche engineering firm presenting case studies and abstracts to a generally passive audience, a blog seemed best suited to help position them as subject matter experts. Within 90 days, the blog attracted a regular readership that included manufacturers, government regulators, and environmentalists.

For a nonprofit organization with an existing but underutilized blog, it made sense to redevelop it before developing a Facebook group to help them establish a sense of community. Within 60 days, the redeveloped blog had a following of 700 readers, which would be later invited to join a Facebook community.

For an independent film that had exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes clips featuring several well-known cast members, YouTube seemed to be the best match (with Revver as a backup in the event YouTube didn't work out). Within 60 days, the various clips earned 350,000 views (with an additional 350,000 views of fan-duplicated videos). Revver proved important too. After a YouTube error caused the account to be suspended, we were able to retain the videos on a production blog until a new YouTube account was established.

All three programs employed other social media tools as well. However, the short- and long-term priorities were determined by considering how each organization could add value for their intended audiences and where those audiences were most likely to find that content. How did we know? We listened, which is the first critical step in developing any social media program.



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