Chris Brogan wrote one of his usual thought starters today (I feel like a slacker around the guy and I make the Amish look lazy) about starting a Social Media strategy. As usual (for him) it was a mix of simple and advanced concepts, ideas and challenges and will be a killer series to watch.

Dig it here –

Some killer points:

Begin with the End in Mind – Strategy isn’t the goal. It’s the path you plan to take to get there. So, let’s put some goals out, and then talk through how to build a strategy to reach them.

Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs and videos allow for negative comments, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.

Attention: learn how to build awareness and encourage relationships with the media you’re making.

As someone who has done this a couple of times, for big and small companies, it is hard to imagine any one way to do it. There is a huge palette to work from, with tons of options and features ranging from the simple to the complex. But tools and platforms and media types (video, text, audio) aren’t a strategy. You have to start with the basics:
Who are we trying to reach (Users – first and always)
Why are we trying to reach them (purpose for this – and it can’t be to create shareholder value or trick people into a CRM loop)
What are we trying to start (conversation, ideation, feedback loop, etc.)
Where are we trying to reach them (go to the users, where they live, in context, with strong respect for them and their space)

After the goals are set, you need to have principles, reasons why you are doing what you are doing. If you don’t set the bar for yourself, transparently and openly, the users will think you are scamming them (their shields are up whether you like it or not – get used to it). Principles aren’t just something to put on a deck slide, they are one of your checklists that live with whatever you are doing. Some principles from previous projects –
1. We aren’t selling anything
2. We are telling the stories of the people and history of this company
3. If it feels like a press release – DELETE it
4. We will take crap from some users, this is not a drill
5. It’s about them. Their needs, their conversations… we are a host, a guide, a facilitator… we dont own them but they can PWN us
6. The users have more ideas than any team can come up with in 5 years… work with them to set the editorial calendar (better yet – throw out the editorial calendar)

Some additional thoughts:

Listening has to be 50% of the initiative, otherwise it is a monologue not a dialog. But it has to be ACTIVE LISTENING. I once had a client who described the web, and specifically the social digital ecosystem as the greatest listening post for a brand in history. He was 1% right. If you listen and dont react/act/respond/show you are paying attention you are only getting 1% of the value.

Keep the User/Audience at the center of the strategy at all times. Dont let marketing/pr/IT/the front office/the consultant/the agency ANYONE with an agenda change that. Its the difference between talking AT someone and talking WITH them.

Outreach Outreach Outreach… a company/nonprofit/personal brand/whatever doesnt exist in a vacuum – no man is an island, and neither is your brand. You need to celebrate the people, ideas and stories outside of your four walls – even if they disagree with you sometimes. Do it because it is important. Do it because you want the users to see the things that you think are cool, do it because sending a link is a form of currency that actually MEANS something (your attention + your audience’s attention = value). Do it because you can answer or correct the record in real time.

Less is More, until you need MORE – Start small, be humble, ask questions, challenge the users. Do little things savagely well… and then build up on the strategy. Keep a backlog of all the things you want to do, but you dont have to do them all at once and you can get some things wrong – users will forgive you.

4 thoughts on “My Thoughts – Starting a Social Media Strategy

  1. Chris Brogan...

    I really like this, especially the outreach. AND you blogged! Great stuff, Sean. Thanks for digging in.

  2. Darren Daz Cox

    good work! yeah, as an artist I think it’s not just necessary to network and listen but to share the things that inspire the work and the history of the modern artist.

  3. Chris Turnquist

    Excellent point Darren. It doesn’t matter what your profession, social media has tremendous value for all users. 🙂

    Thanks for the post Sean.

  4. halley

    Have I told you lately that I love you? Great post. I would like to print it out and sing (prolly something beat-box heavy) it on a megaphone from a soapbox or something else equally non-extraditionary.

    Have my Sage hooked up now.

    Will comment more often.

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