It is important to know your demographic/user base. These are rarely homogeneous. Observe how your user population use social media through data collection/surveys/focus groups. What do they want from your organisation? What do they not want from you in ‘their’ social spaces? SAGE (2009, p. 9) suggest that you “listen to the conversations and learn the style before jumping in”.
Clearly define your objectives. What results are you hoping to achieve? More visitors to the library web site, more online word of mouth mentions, ‘likes’ or tweets? More or better customer feedback? Better delivery of your core services, such as reference or information literacy education? How will you measure these results? How long is long enough to see whether your strategy is working?
“Create a plan that starts small but has room to grow” (Li & Bernoff, 2008, ch. 4, p. 4). Scalability in a social networking project gives the chance to test the water, find measurable outcomes (choose easy to understand analytics tools) and build on initial successes. For example, start with one type of media, and stick with it long enough to see results, whether positive or negative, before adding other types of media.
“Think through the consequences of your strategy” (Li & Bernoff, 2008, p. 4). How is the use of social media expected to change the way you do business and what are the human resources needs, “legal consequences” and other concerns (Li & Bernoff, 2008, p. 4). For example how many hours will need to be spent on maintaining the social networking face of the organisation? Who will be responsible for monitoring it? What tone or subject matter will be most effective? What will not be dealt with through social networking? How will privacy policies be applied and copyright guidelines adhered to? What will be your approach to complaints or negative feedback?
“Use great care in selecting your technology … partners” (Li & Bernoff, 2008, p. 4). Because social networking technology is constantly developing and shifting, and mergers and buyouts are a given in the global corporate market, it will be important to assess the scope of your social networking strategy and to understand what the ramifications will be if a social networking platform or application changes the way it does business, or if the way people engage with it shifts.
Plan for openness, “transparency” (SAGE, 2009, p. 9) and a quick response to feedback and input from users. Timeliness and a human voice in social networking are vital.
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Retrieved from Books 24x7
SAGE (2009). Connecting with your customers: A guide to social media. In SAGE. Retrieved from http://www.sage.co.uk/documents/whitepapers/white-paper-Social-media.pdf