Your company is ready to launch a social media effort. Now what?

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In my last blog, “Don't do social media for social media's sake,” I talked about how social media is not free, so it's important to have a plan before you commit. 

Let's assume now that you've thought it through and you have a budget as well as subject matter experts (SMEs) committed to your plan. What's next?

Here are five steps to kick off a social media effort in your company:

1.   Assign a social media manager. To implement your plan and maximize your budget and the SMEs' time, a social media manager is essential. An ideal hire is a person who understands the company and can work well with PR, legal and internal SMEs. This person can be a part-time or full-time employee.

2.   Initiate a kick-off meeting. I highly recommend you rally staff with a kick-off meeting that sets up expectations with legal, PR and all SMEs. The meeting's agenda should include discussion of communications objectives, social media guidance (do's and don'ts), roles and responsibilities, tools and processes. Most important, make sure SMEs walk away with a clear understanding of what they need to do. 

3.  Create an editorial calendar. The editorial planning requires top-downs and bottoms-up to provide information to the social media manager. Top-downs create rough editorial topics based on his or her understanding of the company, products and industry. The bottoms-up, or SMEs, provide their own editorial planning. The social media manager consolidates all the feedback, and creates a master editorial calendar. The editorial calendar should be fluid and tie in with product launches, PR releases, and real-time industry events or incidents.  

4.   Manage up and manage down by sharing results. Timely communication with management and SMEs is vital. You need two sets of stats: For management, demonstrate ROI that ties social media activities with sales, customer service or something tangible; for SMEs, focus on simple stats such as views/downloads of blog postings, number of tweets, comments received, external comment posts and top 10 most read content. Publishing the dashboard on a regular basis will generate momentum. 

5.  Refine the plan, process and results. The social media landscape is ever-changing. It's imperative that the social media manager stay on top of sharing trends, updating the processes or tools, even modifying the stats. 

Success requires a program manager with strong leadership and project management skills as well as passion for social media to tie all the pieces together. Commitment from management and SMEs is a must. 

If you want to do it right, like everything else, there is no short cut. 

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