The movement to connect socially

Is SOCIAL the new buzz word? We hear a lot about social good, social change, social media, social marketing, social business, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship! How is your organization keeping up with the movement to connect socially?

While connecting through social media and marketing can be as easy as writing a few blog posts, posting your events on facebook or writing interesting snippets of commentary on twitter, the fact is, there’s much more to it! And consumers of social media and marketing are often just as savvy as the ‘experts’ transmitting the message. So how do you get edge in your social strategies?

The first best thing you can do is have a plan! Something that helps you to set your communication goals, to define your brand and what you want to say, and to work out who you actually want to talk to, how and when. While social media activity is fast-paced and ever-changing, it’s still important to ensure you are strategic – and then you can be more confident in taking advantage of all the social interaction on offer. Here’s a few pointers to remember when developing your plan:

  • Make sure it’s targeted and action-based.
  • Focus on who you want to connect with, when, how and why. It doesn’t need to be long-winded – I’d suggest leaving the pages of background about your organization, your research etc in your business planning.
  • Review your current communications and marketing activities and, if they’re effective, make sure you integrate them into your plan and build on successes.Check out your market and your competitors – how are others connecting and what is working best?
  • Determine what your target audiences’ motivations and barriers to being involved in your cause are. List any tactics you can think of that might help to strengthen their motivations or overcome their barriers.
  • Break up your strategy into 2 or 3 one-year phases and have at least one measureable objective per phase so you can track progress.
  • Be mindful that not every tactic out there works for every organization! If you’re not careful, you can end up spending all of your time connecting, without much time left for effective program implementation or to really drive social engagement. Change tactic or approach when things aren’t working. Your plan should always be living!

It’s also important to acknowledge that you’re busy implementing your programs, dealing with Boards, applying for funds AND managing partner relationships, When people are busy (which these days is most of the time) effective and regular communication and social networking is often one of the first things neglected. So, be sure to carefully prioritize your social marketing activities. As part of your planning, I always suggest developing a manageable annual social marketing calendar (starting with year 1 and evaluating progress and effectiveness of your tactics before setting your next year of activity). Link this annual calendar with your meeting calendar or print it out and display at your desk – this will help remind you to connect, even when you’re busy!

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