Many folks ask how to go about creating social media for their company. As a service to the industry, find here an open source version of a draft social media content development process.
This process is general enough to guide development of specific initiatives. It does not recommend blogging or video, per say. Rather the process allows content creation to move towards the market’s needs, and within the company’s resources. There are 14 steps in all:
1) Clearly articulate who your stakeholders are before you begin.
2) Clearly articulate the key issues these stakeholders care about as it relates to your offering. Use a bulleted list with no more than three or four words per item.
3) Begin by researching which, if any, top bloggers are discussing these issues. Use your bulleted list to search. The following are good places to start:
- Google Blogsearch
- Ask.com Blogsearch
4) Inevitably, any substantial subject matter area has a back channel where top bloggers and influencers chat. For example, PR and marketing bloggers and tend to connect on Facebook, Twitter, and to some extent, LinkedIn. This back channel can yield powerful connections to highly influential minds who may not have blogs with top statistical ranking.
Marketers looking to find their subject area’s back channel should start with a basic search. Once your initial search yields important blogs, please visit them and note which social networks the bloggers use to connect. Join their communities. And learn what your stakeholders really care about.
5) Don’t just observe, participate. Comment on blogs and social networks in a non-promotional way. Become part of the community.
6) Note several things in your research:
- Top industry issues
- Top bloggers/thought leaders that write about your issues (you will need these for marketing purposes after your content creation process is done)
- Preferred content forms (video, white papers, blogs, podcasts)
- Ideal places to connect with the larger industry (social networks, etc.)
- Other companies playing in the space: Who’s successful, who isn’t? Why?
- Behavioral norms.
Write this information down in a formal analysis.
7) Using the analysis of your social media marketplace, identify the outcomes the organization would like to achieve. These outcomes will determine the measurement benchmarks once the company decides on its preferred communication tools. Possibilities include:
- Awareness/changed perception on a particular issue
- Third party credibility through Word of mouth
- Brand awareness
- Return on investment (sales)
8 ) Identify the company’s value for the marketplace; specifically, the organization’s subject matter expertise as it relates to the top industry issues currently being discussed amongst bloggers and thought leaders.
- Can the company provide enough information to add to the conversation?
- If so, is it enough to consistently be a part of the conversation, or is it limited in nature? Will it only be valuable for a short time?
- Can the organization afford to give away this information or does the information comprise trade secrets?
9) Based on the company/organization’s value offering and the marketplace’s issues and needs, draft an editorial mission to serve the community/stakeholders. For example, here is the Now Is Gone blog editorial mission:
Continue serving as a primer for those business executives new to social media or considering engaging with these new communications tools. The conversation should be educational, pragmatic and weigh the pros and cons of social media to provide an authentic, genuine viewpoint of social media marketing. We believe in social media’s potential to better communications, but do not think it will replace traditional tactics. Instead we believe social media will be integrated into the larger marketing mix and may influence change in other disciplines.
10) Now examine the company’s resources:
- Thought leaders
- Technical capability and savoir faire: Blog, audio, video, social networking
- Financial resources for some of the above, plus graphic design, SEO, web hosting, application development
11) Select the outreach mechanism(s) that best fits the industry’s preferred content needs (#6), can achieve outcomes (#7) the ability to convey the company’s ability to deliver value through its editorial mission (#8 and 9), and that the company can afford to invest in (#10).
There are many, many mechanisms. Each has its assets and detriments. And blogging is not a cure all silver bullet solution. Consider these more popular initiatives:
- Launch a blog
- Execute a blogger relations program
- Create video(s)
- Develop social network community
- Create social network application
- Build your own social network
- Build a widget
12) Determine who will create the content. Group efforts can help distribute load as well as protect the company from an individual departure. Assign a schedule and make the person responsible. Participation in larger networks should be part of your content development plan and resource allocations.
13) Select general content categories to provide guidance on a weekly basis (if the effort is ongoing). Remain flexible to allow for larger industry and community events.
14) Determine measurement based on outcomes, social media communication vehicle(s), and dedicated effort the company intends to commit to the effort. Select tools to attain measurement. Tools and measurement can vary greatly. Research what is right for you and your effort. Some are free, some are not.
About the Author
Geoff Livingston has worked as a marketing strategist in the Washington, DC region for 14 years. He creates marketing strategy, media relations, branding and Internet marketing campaigns for public and private organizations. Some of his experiences include work for AT&T, the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bartleby Books, BEA Systems, Hughes Network Systems, ManTech, the Washington Nationals, Intelsat, Verizon Wireless and many others. Read his latest thoughts about New Media, PR, and the Changing Conversation at his Buzz Bin Blog.
Geoff is co-author of the book Now Is Gone: A Primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs, where you can read more about his executing social media strategies