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So many tools, so little time! How to prioritize social media effortsHeather
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So many tools, so little time! How to prioritize social media effortsKudos! You’ve done all the legwork: Your organization’s internal culture is open and primed for social media, and you have the support of upper management. Now, you’re ready to dive into the social media scene … but, into which pool?

Navigating the online social media waters can be tricky. With choices abound, it can be difficult to distinguish where your organization should have a presence. Do you become the industry FacebookSM king or the region’s Twitter® authority? Or maybe LinkedInSM is the way to go, mixed in with some notable blog posts? Rather than playing guess-and-check with valuable resources, we’ve outlined five easy-to-follow steps to streamline your social media prioritization efforts!

Step 1: Consider the time investment
First, take stock of soft resources. How much time does staff have to devote to social media activities? This number of hours will delineate how many tools your team can strategically take on without running the risk of being spread too thin and not making an impact.

Take a close look at the hours worked each day by individuals whom you plan on being social strategists or implementers. Is there time available in their schedules, or can some things be shifted around? Also, gather their feedback on the commitment they would like to give to the effort. You may be surprised at their enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile! Share your excitement by giving each participating team member a logo’d Team Stress Reliever printed with the phrase “Let’s get social!”

Step 2: Compare tool abilities to goals
Now that you know how much time you’re working with, compare the tool capabilities to the goals you’ve set. You’ll be asking this question: Does the social media tool in question allow our organization to accomplish the goals we set during our strategic planning? You will likely answer “yes” to a small handful of tools. Take note of these for Step 3.

Step 3: Go to your audience
Although this is “Step 3,” it’s equally as important as Steps 1 and 2. It can be tempting for organizations using social media to feel inclined to create their own community and invite their customers and other loyal followers to join the conversation there. However (as you likely know from personal experience), this strategy often does nothing more than create another account for customers to maintain.

Rather, go to where your audiences already congregate. Hop online to do some secondary research, and put in the time to survey customers on their social media preferences. Reward those who give time to take the survey with a relevant, yet inexpensive gift like a branded Mini Mousepad Coaster or Laptop Skinware, imprinted with your website.

Step 4: Get a feel for the community
Once you’ve determined what tools have the greatest potential for your organization, it’s time to “lurk.” Lurking is a common term in the social sphere, used to describe the online behavior of feeling out a community’s inner workings before actively participating and engaging with its members. Observing a community and its influential members will give your organization an even more solidified idea of where its social media priorities should stand. This step is all about finding your perfect fit.

Step 5: Set priorities and define the hierarchy
Now’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – setting your business’s social media priorities! Prioritizing efforts should be done in a small team (usually the marketing department, with other passionate coworkers in the mix) on behalf of the organization for best results. Take all of the research gathered so far, and choose what tool(s) you’ll concentrate on first and devote the most energy to. Then, determine what communities you’ll tackle down the road and the strategies needed to get there.

Then, share the social media hierarchy with the entire organization. Explain not only the priorities and guidelines but also the goals and benefits hoped to receive. Also include individualized task assignments for those teammates who will be involved in the effort on the frontlines. Boost their motivation to participate in this new endeavor by giving each employee a Bistro Mug imprinted with a motivational quote, or an “Expect Success” Inspirational Book.

Once you’ve set your social media priorities, it’s time to dive in. Consistently keep your long-term goals in mind, while setting and reaching short-term goals to get there. Keep gauging success along the way, and never stop spreading the word. Before you know it, your organization will be the master of its online domains (pun intended)!

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