I’ve been thinking a lot about how many companies are taking their first steps into community building through social networking and PR 2.0. I even recently mentioned during my Awareness, Inc. Webinar that some brands are taking some good steps, others are taking some missteps and there are several taking no steps at all. If you brand falls into any of the three categories I just mentioned, then this post is for you.
All companies need to be prepared for social networking and community building or it just won’t work! If you don’t plan for your community building effort, any steps you take will not provide a return on your investment and your employees tasked to implement and manage the effort will not reach their goals. I usually focus on two big reasons why companies don’t get the most out of social media communications – they are not listening and they don’t know why they’re doing the program to begin with (no strategy or measurable objectives are set in place at the time of program launch).
However, today, I’m focusing on the third point that leads to anti-community building. It’s a lack of infrastructure and technology to support the community building effort properly. I realized a while ago in my own communications department that our efforts were somewhat disjointed. The communications team was building and monitoring media relations programs and social networking programs with several different tools that were all too time consuming. Managing five or 6 different programs produced an ineffective and unorganized way to handle the information that was coming into the department.
There are great software programs that allow you to complete many functions in one program, all in the same place, including:
- Conduct key word searches
- Find media contacts and influential bloggers
- Track news and conversations
- Develop news release and distribute them
- Create Social Media Releases (SMR)
- Report coverage and conversations
Dashboards are created by companies, such as Vocus, to consolidate all of your contact creation, outreach, monitoring and measurement requirements. You can’t possibly expect your communications department to be efficient and productive, if you don’t have the right technology in place. Of course, new programs and people to manage the information all require resources. So, you may have to start slow and implement new technology and processes in several phases.
How are you updating your technology internally to accommodate social networking and community building responsibilities in your communications department? What kind of programs are you using and what kind of resources are required to manage your programs?