Let My Tweeple Go

by Ellen Nordahl on March 9, 2010

It still blows my mind that some organizations are genuinely unwilling to foray into social media.  One of the organizations I had the opportunity to work with was on the fence for months about launching a Facebook Fan page.   They attended several speaker events touting the value of social media, spoke with businesses who had embraced it, and had our firm put together a calendar of topics and comprehensive guidelines for the page.  In spite of developing a protocol for nearly every “what if” that could happen, they still put the kabosh on the idea.

Seeing the degree of corporate backlash and resistance social media advocates still face vaguely reminded me of some hard-wrought change that occurred a few thousand years ago.  Next time you run into a social media stone wall, take a few pointers from Moses (yes, the guy from the Bible; no, I’m not kidding).

1.  Be persistent, and present convincing arguments for your case.

It took Moses 10 times to finally get the go-ahead for his journey out of Egypt.  If you’re passionate about getting your organization to embrace social media, don’t give up the first time you’re shot down.  Ask again, and cite specific, concrete examples of similar businesses (preferably within your industry) that have seen results after adopting some degree of social media marketing.  Stay abreast of current trends, and condense any relevant research findings or studies into a brief format that you can quickly present to the gate keepers.  You can find some excellent examples of social media case studies here, here, and here.

2.  When you get the go-ahead, don’t dawdle.

You should be ready to pull the trigger the moment you get the green light to proceed.  It didn’t take the Israelites months to get out of Egypt; similarly, your plan requires an element of urgency.  Have a list of key industry and consumer contacts to follow on Twitter.  Know the hashtags that are popular with your target audience.  Push to get your social icons placed on your company’s homepage as soon as your pages are set up.   The longer you hesitate before jumping in, the more likely it is that your commitment to the initiative could be drawn into question (especially if you’ve been relentlessly pushing the idea for months).  Your organization’s naysayers will jump on the “lag time” to continue to argue against the idea; by getting off to a running start, you minimize their opportunity to do so.

3.  Work to get the big guy on your side from the get-go….

…so when your middle manager flips out and decides to rally the troops against you, you have the big guns to drown out his arguments.

4.  Set some “commandments,” but don’t try to control everything.

You don’t need a 50 page manual to dictate your social media policy.  If you develop a social media marketing plan that requires you to submit every tweet, update and link to legal for approval at least 30 days before you post them, you might as well nix the idea of “social.”  So much for timeliness and interaction.  You can’t program 90 tweets into Hoot Suite and leave it to run itself, hoping to God that no one tweets back something you may actually have to respond to.  When it comes to the rules, keep them clear, simple, and focused on the key issues.

5.  Know where you’re headed.

If you wield your social media tools correctly, odds are good that you have a community forming after a few months.  Your following may not rival that of Whole Foods Market, but don’t underestimate the power of connecting and engaging with just a few individuals who love your company and your product.  The question you need to continually remind yourself of is “where do I want to lead them?”  Do you want to use your interactions to conduct consumer research?  To get their ideas and feedback about new products?  You can’t simply tell them what it is your company is going to do – you need to create a flow of ideas and information that is both useful to them and makes them feel useful.  If you don’t, you provide no incentive for them to continue to follow you and invest their time with your brand.

When you make a promise to your community, deliver the goods.

Hopefully you’ll be able to do so without unleashing swarms of locusts.

  • I like the analogy to Moses and the Israelites leaving Egypt.
    I think point 5 is what many companies forget to implement. Social Media is not very social if there is no interaction. Without a goal or a plan in reaching out to customers, social media is a waste of time to most companies.

  • EllenNordahl

    Thanks! It seems like everyone gets so caught up in implementing a social media plan because "everyone else is doing it" that they fail to identify the specific objectives and aims they wish to achieve, and think that "just doing it" is enough.

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