As we work with more and more churches, small businesses and non profits to upgrade their website, integrate social media and then teach them to maintain it, I find that they just jump in with poor planning. And, while I appreciate the courage to go forth into the brave, new world of social media…it’s just plain foolish to do so without training. Consider the first three Rs before you make your first Tweet or first status update. The last four Rs will be in the next post.
Research: Do you have any online assets currently (like website, blogs, other social media)? How are they being used? What information are visitors looking for? What do the analytics tell you about who they are and why they are visiting? WHY do you believe social media will have an impact? What are you doing well and not so well?
Readiness: Are your organization’s infrastructure, culture, and policies ready to conduct social media effectively? Can you be open enough to develop relationships yet figure out where to draw the line? Are the stakeholders on board and understand the importance of what you are doing?
Realistic Goals: Who do you want to reach and why? You need to be specific here (by demographic, platform, services, etc.). Where do they congregate? What social platforms do they use? What do you want them to do? And, more importantly for social media, what will they get in return? Remember, this is about pulling them into a relationship with your organization, not pushing your message out to them in an old-fashioned, unilateral way.
Finally, what will your measures of success look like? You can’t afford NOT to be concrete. Is it visitors? Funding? New enrollments in Sunday School? Newsletter subscriptions? Website traffic?
Remember, there is no excuse for running blindly into the social media universe. Some careful planning will level-set expectations, create internal goodwill and ensure a successful launch.