What is social media? At its core, social media = billions of conversations.
These billions of conversations are taking place 24/7/365 via different social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, blogs, mobile devices, etc.) and show no sign of letting up any time soon.
The popularity of this new, convenient communication medium, combined with its ease of use and sheer speed has created what amounts to word-of-mouth advertising on steroids!
This amazing video, The Social Media Revolution, dramatically and statistically illustrates the sheer magnitude and power of social media. Clearly not a fad, the rise of social media represents a paradigm shift in how people and brands communicate. A few statistics to further underscore the point:
- Facebook, which according to an article in the NY Times, has “more than 500 million users [that] upload more than 1.0 billion pieces of content a day,” has surpassed Google as most-visited website in 2010.
- 6 of the top 10 websites of 2010 are social media sites
The question is not: Should you be utilizing social media? But rather, HOW should you be using social media? The Answer: STRATEGICALLY
Savvy causes and business are leveraging the power and opportunity of social media to further their mutual strategic goals. They are engaging targeted groups in meaningful, appropriate, creative ways to make a measurable impact.
WARNING: Those that hop on the social media bandwagon without a clear plan are in danger of wasting valuable resources and even generating negative results.
Believe it or not, it is very common, even for many well established brands, to get the cart before the horse when it comes to participating in social media. They rush into “having a social media presence” before really considering what type of social media presence and activities would be most effective for the specific situation – and how their presence will be maintained over time.
3 Fundamentals to Inform Your Social Media Efforts
1. Start a Listening Program: The rise of social media has created a paradigm shift from one way conversation (advertising) to two-way conversation (listening, engaging, creating communities). You need to be actively listening in order to inform your own strategy as well as to uncover opportunities for social media engagement.
- Set up Google Alerts to keep tabs on key search terms
- Use tools like Google Reader and Technorati.com to efficiently monitor key blogs and websites pertaining to your interest area. You can also track what your competition is doing.
2. Set Goals THEN Develop an Action Plan: Being there “just to be there” is not a social media plan. You should determine specific goals and objectives first, then develop a strategic social media action plan to achieve and measure success.
- This Social Media Action Plan Template by Horn Group can help you get started.
- You will also want to understand the different nuances of various social media platforms. The CMO’s Guide to the Social Media Landscape (2/10/10) provides a nice overview of the key players.
3. Be Creative!
What hasn’t been done yet? What special twist can you offer to set your social media efforts apart in a sea of social media clutter? It is sometimes the simplest ideas that have the most impact. Here’s a little inspiration:
- 9 Creative Social Good Campaigns Worth Recognizing [MASHABLE AWARDS]
- 5 Must-Follow Non-Profits Making a Difference With Social Media MASHABLE AWARDS]
- Checkins For Charity: The Rise of Geo Social Good
- 3 Creative Social Good Campaigns that Will Make You Smile
Certainly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media. But, whether you are new to social media, or are looking to take your efforts to the next level, it always pays to have solid fundamentals!
How are you using social media to directly support your cause marketing partnership goals?