Social media is one big contradiction. Its strength is its fast pace and evolutionary nature, but that’s also one of the biggest obstacles when trying to institutionalize social media.
Rapid changes to existing networks and emerging “next-big-thing-” platforms can leave even a battle-tested social media manager’s head spinning. In addition to getting a handle on how the changes or new networks operate, pros need to figure out whether and how these updates will benefit their business. While social media managers are learning and analyzing the new trends in the social media universe, they are probably being inundated with questions from coworkers who read a blog post saying X platform is the future of social media and how it will change what you are doing today.
With all of the above factors happening on an almost daily basis, it is easy to get stuck in the weeds of the real-time Web. Living in the now might be the easiest route, but in reality, being stuck in the now will hinder your long-term success in institutionalizing social media.
So how do you get away from living in the now and thinking more strategically?
The easiest way is to use the NOW method (Navigate, Outline, Wait) to evaluate the new shiny network or feature.
Navigate – It is important to stay abreast of emerging networks and changes to existing platforms if social media is part of your job function. Before jumping on the bandwagon of “this is the greatest thing since sliced bread” or “this network blows,” set aside some time to play with it and make an evaluation. In this process, it is important to secure the username for your company as well as the username that you would like to have. Once you have those set up, take time to play around with the network under your name while setting up the corporate account to match your brand. During this process, don’t let top 10 reasons why X is super awesome or 20 reasons you should ditch X platform for X cloud your decision making. You should also look to see if your company’s target audience is active on the platform and if the platform is something you can factor into your overall long-term plan.
Outline – No matter what the new shiny object is, it will have both pros and cons for business usage. After experimenting with the platform for a period of time, outline the reasons the platform or upgrade is good for your business along with reasons why it might not be worth the effort. Once that is finished, look at the list to see if the network makes business sense and act accordingly. No matter what is being said on the blogosphere, every company does not need to be on every social network the minute it hits the social Web. It is also OK to go back and revaluate after time if the network or feature turns out to be a game changer or if your customer base migrates to the network.
Wait – Even though social media is in real-time, your strategy for corporate integration is long-term as are the benefits. It is better to tell an executive asking about a new network that you’ll give an answer after a deeper evaluation rather than a quick answer. This will not only give you time to make a business evaluation but will also offer you the opportunity to reinforce your social strategy.
Tune in next week for the next installment of Institutionalizing Social Media, if you want to get it sent to your email, please click here.
Image – Matti Mattila