Unless you are a brand new start up with a clean social media slate, chances are you will have something to fix before you even begin your new social media outreach program. Fixing first can be a big part of your strategy before developing and implementing new and exciting programs. I think that fixing comes naturally with the web 2.0/PR 2.0 collaborative communication.
In traditional PR, communication was so much slower! Of course, that was always one of my biggest complaints. Communication developed by the marketing/PR team, whether it was a media alert or internal employee marketing bulletin would get caught up in the red tape and bureaucracy of the organization. The larger the company, the longer it took to get through the channels for a final approval. Many times, the news and information would be stale by the time the approval came back to the communications team. However, today that’s not the case or the manner in which communication moves through an organization. Most of the time, executives will point out the tweets, blog posts, Facebook comments and LinkedIn discussions come from people that aren’t even a part of the communications department. That’s the beauty of 2.0 and we should embrace and celebrate the voice of the people.
But, this is also one of the main reasons to realize the immediacy of a social media strategy and how important it is to have a plan in place not only for new outreach but to create a stronger more unified program moving forward. For a company, hearing Joe in the Accounting department tweeting about his day (and it was a really rough one) or Megan in the art department talking about a new project (giving more specifics than maybe she should), and hinting about a new concept initiated by the company, is a wake up call (as it should be). Remember, these voices are very important because every company has an opportunity to build an army of brand champions, by having a strategic plan and communicating to the entire staff the value of social media and what’s in it for them.
I urge you to take a look at your own organizations. Are you working with a cross functional team on your social media policies? It’s important to act, whether you are just building a policy or revaluating what’s in place and discovering what else needs to be included due to the dynamic nature of conversations. Do you have your strategic social media plan in place and have you come up with a program to educate your employees on their participation, specific roles and responsibilities? Are the different divisions, units or department in your organization following any kind of standards in their social media outreach? Are you providing guidelines (including how you want your brand represented visually right down to how to tag content appropriately)? Did you build a toolkit for the different divisions of your company, so they can understand how to approach the collaborative web with their own social communications?
If the answer is no, then you might want to take a good look at what’s already out there and “fix” what you can. If that means making company profiles consistent or even having employees place a statement on their personal blogs that says their opinions do not represent the official opinion of the company (this is language that may appear in a social media policy). Sometimes the strategy is to fix it first…to clean it up and then move forward with a stronger more unified platform and an army of social media communicators. Of course, because the communication on the web is never in one place and easily creates depth and breadth far beyond your own community, just do the best you can for a good foundation moving forward.
Next, you can identify your new opportunities by analyzing those people, channels and the type of communication that will result in an experience or behavior that you want to create. It’s never too late and there’s no time like the present to start. By reviewing the landscape and making a few necessary changes, your communications effort will be stronger when you move forward with your new programs. What do you think about fixing first before you start something new?