Technology providers have a long and proud history of “ready, fire, aim” programs. In fact, many channel partners eagerly skip over the “ready” step to start firing their marketing gun as soon as possible. As for “aiming,” if you don’t know where the target is hidden, no one can say you missed it. (Unless you shoot yourself in the foot and your injury is visible to your boss.)
With social media, this approach is an absolute calamity. Things happen so fast and the results are so permanent that a misplace d shot can have disastrous consequences. For channel partners, it is not possible to have an effective social effort without thinking about it first. Otherwise you just end up with a lot of random Tweets, a dead LinkedIn Group, and a Facebook page with the wrong kind of Friends. (Not to mention a lot of sarcastic posts you wish you could just delete!)
So, an important part of planning is assessing where your company stands today in some basic areas – before you start visiting Facebook or LinkedIn. For most resellers there are six fundamental areas that require social media “thinking:”
1. Company (and Personal) Goals – There are important things to be accomplished with or without social media. Examples include, grow revenue faster than the channel average, increase customer satisfaction, and improve training for companies. Individuals might want to increase their compensation, cut their working hours, or improve their network.
2. Company Pain Points – If there are unattained goals, then something (process) has to change to achieve these goals. If sales are not growing fast enough, look at the sales process and see if a LinkedIn sales contest with a link to your new YouTube video might generate new customers. For every goal, identify the underlying pain point (process) that might be improved with social media and modify it. (The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over with the same result, but expecting a different result the next time you do it!)
3. Personal and Business Profiles – There are minimum requirements for the quality and content of personal and business profiles in every network. Standards need to be discussed, defined, and enforced. “Do you want your CFO to use a picture taken at the Christmas Party dirty dancing contest in Facebook?” (I actually saw this once.)
4. Company Value Proposition – The main reason that customers buy services from you should be clearly understood and easily decipherable in all your Tweets, Posts, and Videos. If you don’t know what your value proposition is, don’t expect your LinkedIn contacts to figure it out for you.
5. Target Audience – There are millions of people online, but who do you want to contact first? Make a top ten list for your customers, competitor’s customers, prospects, influencers, and potential employees. Understand their socio-economic profile and their common issues. With so much information available that there is no excuse for communicating with strangers. In fact, there are no strangers, just people you haven’t Friended yet.
6. Rules of Social Media Engagement – Understand how you, as an employee, are expected to operate within social media networks. Qualities like honesty, respect for other’s opinions, following the rules of the community, and willingness to add value need to be documented and discussed.
Understand and assess your needs and capabilities in each of these six basic areas before boarding the Social Media train. The process for social media planning needs to be “Thinking, Doing, Getting.” When a reseller has done enough “Thinking,” then it’s safe to start “Doing” things with your networks. When the first two steps are done, that’s when you can expect the “Getting” phase to begin. Not before.