The following is from Jonathan Schreiber, member,  mobileStorm’s Board of Directors

speakersCorner_logoOur communication world is evolving faster than ever before in human history.  As new pathways become available to us, it is increasingly important to choose the appropriate channel for each message.  Let’s take Social Media for a moment.  Everyone knows what it is, but no one can define it.  We strive to use it because the buzz is there, but most do not know how to benefit from it, let alone measure it.  So today, let\’s take a quick look under the hood and see what\’s driving this phenomenon.

How do you define Social Media?   This is where most organizations get off on the wrong foot. Social Media is a strategy of engaging your customers or prospects in a conversation (hence the term social) using content (hence the term media).  The goal of Social Media is to establish an ongoing dialogue with your consumer rather than simply a monologue.  But people often confuse strategy and tools.  Facebook is a tool. Twitter is a tool. Enhancing your brand awareness through communication and real rapport with your user is a strategy. (And, yes, to avoid confusion, if you choose to use Facebook, you will need a strategy – but let\’s leave that for a different post.)

Now here\’s the rub:   everyone I come across seems to be trying to figure out his Twitter strategy or what to do on Facebook, but that\’s the wrong approach.  Here is the basic order in which to start this process:

  1. Figure out your goals and objectives, i.e., define success.
  2. Decide how you will track your success.
  3. Understand your users and find where they are.
  4. Engage with your users using current trends and tools.

One of the least understood aspects of Social Media is #3 – where are your users? Yes, with Facebook at 400+ million users and Twitter sub 100 million . . . it\’s a good guess that your users are there.  However, a) what if they aren\’t? and, b) what if those places are the wrong places to interact with your specific audience or brand?

Here\’s an example:   if a law firm wanted to get into Social Media, what would be the best way? Well, in general, legal information is \”long form\” (meaning you must be explicit in your messaging to the nth degree), so Twitter probably isn\’t that relevant.  Next, most people don\’t want to \”friend\” their law firm, so Facebook is out. So does that mean Social Media is dead for law firms? Absolutely not.  A law firm could create a page on YouTube and create three-minute video clips on legal issues important to their client base.  They can promote those videos on their home page (if they are a decent size law firm), they can make them topical and send them to journalists, they can post them on Digg to help drive traffic, and they can even include surveys and the like to help drive consumer engagement.

Just remember, the whole point to my article isn\’t to show how you create a Social Media plan for a law firm (or any other business for that matter) . . . it\’s to show that Social Media doesn\’t live and die on Facebook and Twitter.  It\’s an important arrow in the quiver for some, but every plan needs to be customized for each brand and purpose.