Let’s say you’re convinced of the power of social media. You’ve recognized the importance and relevance of the social media audience for your brand or organization. You’re ready to start getting involved in the conversation and developing your online brand community.

But you have no idea where to begin, or how to implement a social media strategy for your business. You’re scared that a poorly-implemented plan might backfire, costing you whatever buy-in you’ve managed to achieve.

Since I’ve been working in online marketing and advertising, and talking about social media to brand marketers, these are the kinds of questions that come up most frequently. “I’d love to get my company involved in social media, but…” followed by a long litany of questions about how to do it without provoking coronary-level anxiety among the people responsible for the brand.

So when Jason asked me to think about a topic to tackle here on Social Media Explorer, my first thought was “Let’s talk about how to write a really good RFP,” which then expanded into “let’s do a series.”

Astral Dive by Jurvetson on FlickrDiving (Safely!) into Social Media is a four-part series aimed at other “social media explorers,” the people who are exploring the tools of social media, and want to bring the power of those tools to their organizations.

Part 1 is Figuring Out Where Social Fits. We’re going to be discussing laying the groundwork for introducing your brand to the social web. What is the appropriate level of involvement for your organization? What elements of social media participation will fit with your existing marketing efforts? What would constitute a sustainable strategy for your brand’s social media involvement? What are the critical goals that you will need to achieve to justify a social media plan? What are the smart first steps to take? Is your corporate culture ready for social media participation? If not, what can you do to get there? Do you have a corporate/employee blogging policy?

Part 2 is Creating an Effective RFP. One of the top barriers to social media participation by brands is lack of internal time and resources to devote to it. If you’re going to hire an agency or other outside vendor to assist with developing and implementing your social media strategy, creating a solid Request for Proposals is critical. With the explosion of social media (and social media “experts”) in recent months, an RFP can make sure that your organization’s needs and requirements are going to be handled capably.

Part 3 is Working with Partners and Vendors. Whether it’s an agency providing consulting and guidance (or even full execution) or a tech firm offering monitoring or deployment solutions, outsourcing will probably be at least a part of your social media effort. Once you’ve selected the right vendors, you need to know how to empower them to work effectively for your brand, without creating unnecessary brand exposure. Also, it’s ultimately going to be up to you to make sure that your social media partners, your PR firm, your agency partners, and your internal marketing folks are all clear on their respective roles and responsibilities.

Part 4 is Determining Success or Failure, possibly the most important element to achieving your long-term goals. What specific ROI are you trying to achieve? What metrics are you going to be benchmarking, and how are you going to get at that data? What timeframes are realistic for achieving which goals?

So as you can see, this is going to be an information-packed and highly valuable series. Part 1 will roll out next Monday, with the remaining parts hitting your feed readers weekly. In the meantime, if there are any specific questions you’d like to see addressed in the series, speak up in the comments below or shoot an email to kfrench [at] doeanderson dot com.

If you’ve been exploring social media and feel like you’ve got some wisdom and experience you’d like to share, send me a shout out as well. I’ll be happy to include your quotes and give credit (or blame) wherever it’s due.

img courtesy Flickr

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About Kat French

Kat French

Kat French is the Digital Operations Manager at CafePress. An exceptional writer both on the web and in other genres, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in community management, SEO/PPC, social media strategy and program management. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, Optima Batteries and more.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://knobee.com vdegeorge

    I’m really looking forward to the upcoming series and I think it will give a lot of insight. I think there are several brands who would like to get into Social Media, but simply do not know where to start – and this could be a springboard for ideas.

    One thing that I think would be helpful would be to show the contrast in using Social Media versus using “traditional” media (TV, Newspapers, etc.) for brand awareness. Should a business take from their ad budget and move it to social media, or should it be separate?

    This is interesting to me because I work for a 3rd part vendor who monitors traditional media for brands and know there is still a very large need to manage those brands “traditionally.”

  • http://blogbuildingu.com Hendry Lee

    Hi Jason,

    Looking forward to the series.

    I am always interested in tips on becoming more productive in social media. As as I said in the Plurk post, they can be a source of constant distractions.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com KatFrench

    Vince: Thanks. We’re hoping that if nothing else, the series provides a wealth of solid talking points, and helps those who are already evangelizing social media in their organizations sort of wrap their heads around how to get started with a solid plan.

    As you said, brands who’ve only done traditional media need to be made comfortable with social, and drawing correlations between new media elements and their traditional media counterparts can be helpful.

    Hendry: You’re always more productive with a plan, in my opinion. Hope you enjoy the series!

  • http://www.sysomos.com steve_dodd

    I’m really looking forward to this series and totally agree with vdegeorge that we need to consider the blend of media types. The impact of SM is growing quickly but we still need to consider traditional media as it will shift over time to take advantage of SM. During that shift, we still need to be aware of it and its impacts.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Kat’s doing a series? Holy crap. Who gave her the keys to the car?

    Oh … nevermind.

    Heh.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com KatFrench

    Steve: I’m completely a proponent of social media as part of an integrated communications and marketing strategy. In my opinion, social media as a “viral” experimental channel is short-sighted.

    Although, if it takes a “viral campaign” to get an organization’s foot in the door, I won’t complain. Much.

    Jason: Be glad you only gave me a login to the blog and NOT the keys to any car you own.

    There’s a reason my car has that interesting irregular shape…

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