Amy Sample Ward, Membership Director of NTen and a co-author of Social by Social, kicked off a 4-part discussion of social media practice at this year’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC), with some advice for goal setting.
Identify the groups within your demographic, she said, and then ask “What do they want?” and “What do YOU want?”
Seems simple enough, but it does involve discovering where in the net universe your groups are hanging out. Add to that the burden of learning how to drive new online tools and figuring out useful analytics. Who has the time?
Amy claims you CAN carve 30 minutes out of a busy workday to engage with others. She says social media tools are just that–tools. They should exist along side other forms of communication you’ve become familiar with, like your email. Her recipe for doing social media daily without scrapping your to-do list: listen first, then engage.
Information overload is a fact of life today, and the tools we use to manage the flow are numerous. You’ll have to experiment to find what works for you, but here’s a short list of listening tools to get started. Most webpages have an RSS feed, and blogging sites are searchable. Set up alerts and readers to collect relevant data with services like Netvibes, People Browsr, Nutshell Mail, Radian6, Ice Rocket, Sysomos or Lithium. You can take a look at Amy’s RSS reader on her blog, to get a sense of how it works.
Some other great advice for making social media work for you: pay close attention to analytics you track to see when to change strategy, and be sure to include trends and insights you notice in your internal reports. Add external reporting to your to-do list as well. The people you engage with can also be encouraged by what’s working for you and learn from what isn’t. Once you start interacting with your real audience with the right tools, and at this level, you’ll find that they are as invested in your success as you are.
One last piece of advice: take it easy on the ROI worry. Providing good context for trends in your regular reports will help ease your anxiety and remind your superiors of what they are really investing in. Share the qualitative side of the numbers by adding anecdotes and identifying your social media influencers, highlighting the ways they share news about you. Remember your people, program and mission and take the time to cultivate real social media relationships, even if only on your lunchbreak!
More resources and references to useful net tools are on Amy’s blog, AmySampleWard.org.