In the past five years I’ve worked with a lot of brands get into social media in a holistic, useful, human way. Each of the companies had unique internal organizations, brand voice, industry (retail, software, online content, hollywood PR) and different external goals. But after working with several companies and their different needs, I began to realise an overall process that was needed before doing any kind of campaigns, marketing or expansion on – especially in case a crisis situation arose (and it always, always did in the most surprising of ways).
When I work with companies now, the following presentation is the basics of what I do (and I do mean basics!). I’m a huge believer that you don’t just “do” social media or hire an intern or someone out of school because ‘they know how to tweet’ (I remind people that if it took them 5 years to build a company, it can be undone in 5 seconds with the wrong tweet).
Before a company gets into social media, they need to ask themselves a very important question: why. Once that’s answered, they need to figure out what the brand’s online voice is (this can sometimes be a couple of months of trial and error to see what’s working & what isn’t) and then what social media channels work best for all of that and the company. Then the whole company can start to produce the right content, customer service and campaigns plus be able to receive information back from the community, grow it, and empower it.
The other big component is the Crisis Communication solution, lightly touched on here. It’s something I try to get initiated in the beginning of working with a company but generally speaking, it’s been hard to partner with PR and internal groups to get this accomplished as a lot of companies – particularly corporations – are used to working in silos. And PR, generally speaking, acts as a gate keeper of information and doesn’t seem to like partnering with social groups in solving online issues (they like to “make statements” instead of looking at the issue, understanding its online process and community, and addressing it frankly). Usually the thought of a crisis communication plan doesn’t come up until, well, there’s a crisis. Don’t let that happen to you – trust me.