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The Perfect Face for Social Media

Social media has been described as giving organizations the opportunity to "personalize" their brands, products, or services. When many brands first joined Twitter, they hid behind a corporate logo with no human face on the account. Although this protected them, it also created a barrier. How can you interact with a logo? For some types of accounts, this was a shrewd move—or at least a necessary one. For example, Dell's Twitter account tweets are primarily a stream of offers from its outlet store. Putting a face to this would have been unnecessary because the account isn't attempting to interact. Instead, it is there simply to stream information to those who are interested. By not humanizing the account, the company avoided the complications of the account being swamped with questions. However, the account does receive many inquiries, not all of which are associated with the outlet store. But the number of inquiries not associated with the outlet store is less than Dell would receive if the account had a face.

In contrast, many brands that are considered to be successful in their use of social media have a high-profile spokesperson who is the face of that brand's social media. Some have achieved almost celebrity status from this level of exposure, and not without cause. Some company members are celebrated for their innovative use of social media and for being extremely approachable, choosing not to hide behind their corporate logos. These people agree to face the public for the good and the bad that it brings.

So how do all these elements come together in a cohesive social media plan? The key to a successful social media plan—as with any planning in business—is to know the objectives first. Understand what it is that you are hoping to achieve, what the organization is going to do with social media, and then form a plan around that goal or set of goals. To the extent possible, the goals should be very well defined. The clearer they are, the easier it becomes to define the plan that will lead to achieving those goals. Clearly defined plans also make for clearer metrics. Yes, metrics exist in social media just as they do in any other business activity. Not only is it possible to measure elements of a social media program, but they most definitely should be measured.

It is also essential to ensure that the organization has assessed its own capabilities to actually carry out the plan. A plan that requires more resources than are actually available is never going to work.

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