By Rachel Lufkin, BERKMAN

While visiting my parents recently, my father told me he had been in a meeting with the Board of Directors for the local credit union when all of the members of the Board were asked if they had a Facebook page. My dad, still having two teenagers at home, was the only one in the room who responded affirmatively. Apparently, the credit union was trying to reach out to a younger audience, but being mostly what I’ll call “well-established” business men and women and largely unfamiliar with social media strategies, they were unsure if they were really ready to go down that road.

I believe this sentiment is echoed by many people/businesses, who hearing of social media and the influence it can have on their target audiences, want to embrace this new means of communication but are unsure as to their own abilities to implement social media tactics.

That being said, here are just a few things to consider when determining if you are ready for social media.

Do you have the people/time to support a social media effort?

Social media efforts can be very time consuming. Before starting a social media campaign, ensure you are willing to dedicate the time and personnel necessary for a successful campaign.

Are you ready to participate in the conversation and do more listening than talking?

Companies used to just create key messages and then tell them to the appropriate audience. Today, companies who engage in social media are instead creating an open, multi-sided conversation. You must be prepared to relinquish some control over the message, listening and responding to what people are saying about your company and/or product.

Are your target audiences using social media venues to communicate?

Be sure social media strategies will help you communicate with decision makers who can affect your bottom line.

Are you dedicated to seeing the social media project through?

It isn’t uncommon for people to open a Twitter account, tweet like mad for a few weeks/months, and then lose interest. If you’re planning to use social media, start it knowing that it is important to see the project all the way through to get results.

Do you have a plan?

Social media can be addictive and time consuming, so spend your time on the outlets that will have the biggest impact for your company. Know who will be primarily responsible for implementing the strategy. Like traditional communication strategy, ensure that messaging is clear and consistent across all social media sites for branding purposes.

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