March 8, 2010

Social media begins with goals and a strategy

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John HaydonI’ve been following Ash Shepherd on Twitter for some time now because he always seems to have something important to share. Following is an email interview I conducted with Ash about a service he offers called Social Media Planning and Analysis.

What is social media planning and analysis?

Shepherd: Social media planning and analysis is really about two things:

1. Creating frameworks that keep social media activities mission focused in a sustainable manner.

2. Taking the time look at if what you are doing is working.

After all, none of us has the time or resources to do anything that is not helping us achieve our mission as an organization or company.

Can you explain what this looks like in practice?

There is obviously a lot that can go into explaining this but the simple breakdown is this: Goals, Strategies, Tactics, Tools and Metrics. The biggest point to make here is that picking your tool comes as one of the final steps, not as the first and only one.

This practice of keeping things tied to larger communication goals with specific actions and ways to measure successes as well as shortcomings is the key to sustainability for groups.

If you chase the tools, what are you going to do when they change? (And they will.) You have to start over. With a solid plan and framework the worst case scenario is that you have to adjust that last two steps of the process but everything else can remain consistent.

Can you give us an example?

I worked with the Oregon based nonprofit group Mad As Hell Doctors a few months ago to develop a strategic social media campaign. The primary focus was around a monthlong car-a-van tour across the country with 26 town hall style events culminating with a major rally in Washington, DC, before a vote related to health care reform.

They had a significant need to build a sense of community and momentum behind their issue in a very short period of time (they came to me two weeks prior to the campaign launch). In the end we set up a Facebook Page, Twitter account, YouTube Nonprofit Channel and blog that all integrated through the Facebook Page.

By developing and using a social media plan, they were able to realize three major benefits.

1. They redefined the community. Social media allowed them to connect, share and hear from supporters not only from around the country but also from around the world, which helped drive great participation through a few of their petition and email campaigns.

2. Increased participation – It allowed them to create avenues for participation and ownership for the campaign with people who were not able to physically participate in the car-a-van or town hall meetings due to geographic barriers (or time-off barriers from work).

3. Stay connected – Accessibility of social media through mobile technology actually allowed them to manage and stay connected with the campaign even while on the road. The power to tell the story as it happened by everyone involved was a major contributing factor to the success of the campaign, according to the group.

What are your questions for Ash?John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then connect up: Contact John by email, see his profile page, visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment.

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3 thoughts on “Social media begins with goals and a strategy

  1. Thanks for posting John.

    I thought for sure there would be a few more questions, comments or war stories to share. I would love to hear more about what other folks think or would add to this basic layout of a process.

  2. Hello John, really insightful. I've been reading Socialbrite all morning and have found it full of resources. I am searching for stats regarding nonprofits in Europe, and I would like to know if you could advice me of a detailed case study I could read. Thanks in advance and encourage you to keep up the work !!!

    • Hi, J Gabriel,

      Thanks for the kudos. I'm not aware of case studies focusing on European nonprofits, though I'm sure they're out there and we'd be happy to spotlight them if you share what you come across.