Don't 'over think' social media strategy

Start small and iterate your way up

It may be tough to convince CEOs and the board the value of social media, but marketing and IT staff shouldn’t spend too much time planning or risk “over thinking” the strategy and losing ground.

Kristen Boschma, head of online communications and social media at Telstra, said organisations can spend too much time thinking about social media, which should complement, not replace, existing marketing activities.

“If you were planning to do something and it has been three months and you haven't done anything you are over thinking it,” Boschma said. “Set up a Facebook page, YouTube and Twitter accounts. The assumption there is you have a marketing plan you plug into.”

At Telstra there are three rules for staff setting up a Facebook page in the name of the company.

“You need a six-month content plan, someone to keep the conversation going at least twice a day, and have to have a backend process for dealing with complaints, comments and criticisms,” Boschma said. “Those three things must be in place or the site will fail.”

Telstra has two types of interactions – the individual and institutional. For individual issues there is a shift roster, like a call centre, and institutional (or broader issues) are dealt during daylight hours.

The head of Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, Paul Borrud, said organisations shouldn’t get tied down with planning arbitrary periods for social media marketing.

Borrud said he isn’t sure if there is an actual time frame companies should stick to with social media activities, but like Boschma said “don't over think everything”.

“For example, Johnson&Johnson has a great strategy for responding to things on its home page. IT has certain things planned around conversations. We call them conversational calendars which is mapping activity to campaigns,” he said.

Borrud and Boschma shared their views during a panel discussion on maximising the opportunities given by social media strategies at the CeBit 2011 conference in Sydney last week.

Borrud said the message Facebook constantly delivers to brands is “get started and iterate”.

“We push code every night so it's not the typical annual refresh,” he said. “If companies haven't started in six months we may have changed everything in that time. I’m not sure about a ‘Facebook 2.0’, but it will probably be there tomorrow morning in the form of an iteration update.”

Another recommendation was a vibrant internal social media community will foster a culture shift and drive external activities.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia

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