Social Media is fairly new and there’s no ‘sure win’ strategy. Social media doesn’t really work with a grand strategy and campaign launch. It is somewhat organic. It’s not selling or spying. It’s about understanding people, potential users, being a friend, finding some truth on thoughts and perception. It’s not an online survey where you stand to win a prize after completing it. Its raw, simple and all about people.
The key is ‘to listen’, you have to listen to what people are saying and contribute to the conversation in a way that is appropriate and adds value.
Here’s how I would go about it.
1. Find out where the online ‘passion’ for the product/service is residing, community groups, sites, social media platforms that have a high traffic, strong opinions (good and bad)
2. Keep doing nothing except listening until you’ve worked out the reasoning and motivation behind those conversations, what it is customers really want, what types of customers hang around in your social media markets, who the most important or vociferous ones are and what makes them passionate about your product/service.
3. Ask around / Snoop around and see who the good writers, interesting personalities and Social Media engaged individuals are and start enlisting them to be a part of the strategy, especially as internal evangelists. This is also good to see who has the comfort level at being a “face” or “connection” through social media to the outside world / and as a part of the strategy.
4. Encourage internal evangelists to start blogging, twittering, and socializing online – about anything… preferably, their personal passions. This will give them the vocabulary and intimate reference to know how to tap into their customers online.
5. Start dropping in some interesting comments to help people out with easier problems and, gently, start participating with the social conversation equivalent of ‘hmmm…ahh..that’s interesting…good idea…perhaps you would like to expand on that…’
6. Start producing content that answers customers’ questions (the deeper rooted and more hidden the motivations that produce those problems, the better) and start participating in the conversation from their point of view with ideas and products they’re going to genuinely like.
Jeremiah, in his post How Do I Talk to my Executives about Social Media gives some great pointers on the subject