What is Social Media?

Entries in Social Media Strategy (5)


The Unlucky 7 - Common Social Media Mistakes

Because social media is so new, most organizations do not have professional social media strategies designed to deliver business results.  

We have identified 7 common mistakes that are preventing organizations from getting the kinds of measurable business results they expect from their social media efforts:

1. Addressing the wrong audience

Too many organizations are investing too much time on the wrong audience, often attracting followers with free content, who will never turn into customers or members. It is important to segment and understand who your target audience really is rather than use a 'spray and pray' approach with broadcast social media. 

2. Confusing "activity" with results

The number of posts, tweets and likes are often measured and held out as a sign of "success" for social media campaigns, but if these activities do not result in measurable business results at some point, it is like having a lot of smoke but no fire. A high level of activity but no real results is often connected to problem number 1., addressing the wrong audience.  

3. Using the wrong social media platforms

If your target audience is primarily white collar professionals and you are just using Facebook and Twitter to reach them, chances are that you are missing the majority of your audience. LinkedIn is probably a better choice for this type of target group.

Likewise, if you want to really add value to your social media efforts for a close-knit customer community, you should probably consider using a private social networking platform. Using the wrong platform means your are not reaching your target audience. 

4. Neglecting to measure what really counts

Some things in social media are easy to measure; clicks, views, retweets, Likes, followers, etc. However, what really counts is if your audience takes some other actions as a result of your social media communication campaigns. Did you get more customers, sales, meeting attendance, member registrations or renewals because of your messaging campaign? These are the metrics that ultimately count and what you expect from your other marketing and communications campaigns. Why should social media be treated differently?  

5. Having no policies or designing the wrong policies

There are at least 3 categories of social media users in your organization that absolutely need social media policies; a.) all employees in general, b.) those employees that are required to use social media as part of their job duties and c.) any employee that has a hire or fire level of responsibility.

Recent court rulings, including several from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), make it crystal clear that employers need to manage social media legal risks. Having appropriate and legally correct social media use policies, along with training and education, is the best defense against this type of risk.  

6. No definition of "success" or metrics

Why are you using social media in the first place? Too many organizations are using social media because of perceived peer pressure to do so. 'Everyone else has a Facebook Page so we better have one too' without understanding why.

Social media may, or may not, be appropriate for your business. The first step in defining if and how to use social media is to define what you expect it to do for your organization. Are you trying to increase sales and revenue or do you simply want to communicate and inform the general public?  Be clear with yourself first and define what social media "success" should look like for your organization. 

7. The lack of a well thought out strategy and implementation plan

Because social media is so new, most organizations have started out by trial and error and experimentation. A growing number have taken a further step and have hired dedicated staff to manage their social media activities. However, even many of those organiztions that have dedicated staff still do not have a real strategy or plan for implementation. Simply hiring a dedicated staff person to manage your social media efforts does not automatically make up for the lack of a strategy or a definition of what you are trying to achieve.

The development of a professional grade strategic plan by definition is designed to address and eliminate the most common mistakes many organizations are commonly making and to help you achieve real and measurable business results.  


Developing a professional grade social media strategy will achieve at least three things for your organization;

A.) You will avoid wasting time and resources on activities that are not producing results. 

b.) You will reduce potential legal and reputational risks from the use of social media.  

c.) You will be able to align your social media efforts with your core business strategy and be able to measure results towards your goals and objectives. 


SOCIALSTRAT helps organizations to develop professional grade social media strategies that are designed to deliver business results, in line with your organizational objectives. 

Contact us today to learn more.

Terrance Barkan CAE - Direct: +1 202 294 5563 - Email: tbarkan@socialstrat.org



Facebook and a "20' something with a nose ring" is not a social media strategy!

A surprisingly large number of organizations are using a Facebook site, managed by a millenial generation junior staff person, as their organization’s approach to social media. Not that there is anything wrong with Facebook or with millenial’s or with junior staff people. It’s just that they are not a substitute for a business strategy on how to use social media for most professional or trade associations.


There is so much hype about how social media is changing society and in particular, about how associations are facing the most serious threat yet to the way they are doing business and even their very existence, that it is intimidating for many. Some of the hype is true – social media is changing how associations need to operate and in many cases the changes are life threatening for traditional associations. However, there is also a great deal of confusion because of the proliferation of new tools and the many very disparate ways they are being used to connect people. The tools are important but they can also be a distraction from creating the necessary strategy if you start with tools and features first.

What associations need to remember is that associations are all about creating community, something that is new to most of the new entrants in the social media space. What associations should also keep in mind is that social media is first and foremost an engagement strategy, something that associations also have as part of their DNA. 

What is different and what many associations are going to struggle with however, is that social media tools require a new and evolving skill set to be leveraged effectively. For example, association staff are often expected to create and generate content for their association. In the new social media context, it is more about user generated content and enabling more autonomy in the community at large. Staff have then to learn more how to influence and manage thought leaders and experts who then create content and less on creating it themselves. This can be a significant and difficult change for many. They have to become true “community managers”, a position that will include subject matter understanding, political skills and excellent communication capabilities.
Social media applications and tools offer an exciting and new way to enable real engagement within communities of interest. But if you want to make intelligent choices about which tools are appropriate for which purposes, it helps first to know what you want to achieve through social media and how best to do it. That is what a social media strategy is all about and it is the starting point, before making technology decisions.


Is your social media project doomed to failure?

This is going to be a very brief post on why most social media projects are doomed to failure.

Most social media initiatives will fail for one or more of the following management errors:

  • No clear objectives
  • No clear measurements
  • No one person accountable
  • No budget or resource allocation
  • No sustainable business model (ROI)
  • No senior management buy-in or support

One could write a book about how and why a social media project might fail.

However, I feel these 6 short sentences say it all.

What do you think?


The Social CEO!

The relationship between a “CEO” and social media is an interesting one. For the CEO, social media raises two very important questions:

-          What does social media mean for me personally?

-          What does social media mean for my organization?

In both cases, it is becoming increasingly important that CEO’s of organizations large and small have an answer for these two questions.

The spectrum of social media understanding on the part of CEO’s runs from those that are skeptical of social media, do not use it and consider it a distraction at best; to those that are social media ‘rock stars” that have their own personal blogs and Twitter followers.

For staff within an organization, where your CEO falls on this spectrum will have a huge impact on your organization’s ability to effectively implement and leverage social media.

At a very minimum, a CEO today needs to understand at least enough about social media, what it is and what it is capable of, to make an informed decision about how his/her organization should be engaged with social media tools, campaigns and the allocation of resources.

Not every CEO will or should become a social media fanatic. However, because social media is now a major force in how people collaborate, make buying decisions, get their news and form decisions, it would be foolish to dismiss social media as a “distraction” or waste of time.

Many CEO’s today face a real challenge. Social media is so filled with hype and jargon that many senior level managers are not sure how or where to start. Uncertain about what is hype and what is actionable information. Not clear on how to drive or to measure ROI.

So the next time you feel like your CEO “doesn’t get it”, remember that answering the questions (what does it mean to me personally, what does it mean for my organization?) are at the forefront of a typical CEO’s mind when it comes to social media.

It is in everyone’s interest to get solid answers to these two questions!


Do you know of a CEO that would like to network with peers to better understand social media?

Join TheSocialCEO on LinkedIn (CEO only networking group)



New LinkedIn Profiles now include Certifications! Boon for Associations?

On 15 October 2010 LinkedIn enabled a new feature called "sections" for its individual user profile pages. This includes the option to add "Certifications" along with other elements that includes Languages, Patents, Publications and Skills.

These new sections add another rich layer of profile information that will make LinkedIn an even more powerful networking tool than it already is.

Associations should encourage all of their certification holders to include this information on their professional profiles. This will help to raise awareness of the certification and of the affiliated organization.

How does it work?

At the bottom of your LinkedIn profile page in the "Edit Profile" mode you will see that the option to "Add sections" has been added:


When you click on "Add sections" you will see a prompt that includes the ability not only to add sections (certifications, language, patents, publications and skills) but also links into other LinkedIn enabled applications.


Advice: We strongly recommend that associations inform their members how to add the certification to their LinkedIn profile. We suggest that you give them guidance on the exact wording. For example, to include the acronym and the full description of the designation and the authoring body. See example.

This helps to ensure consistency that will improve the ability to search for individuals based on their certifications. It is also an important element of your branding to have your members use correct descriptions of your certifications, designations, acronyms and organizational names.

Next steps

LinkedIn continues to add features that make it a valuable tool for associations in an overall social media strategy.

LinkedIn can be used to engage your members in a LinkedIn group, to search for and invite potential members to your organization, to identify new thought leaders, speakers and authors, to perform competitive intelligence and scores of other applications that deliver real results.

If you would like to connect with other users of LinkedIn to share experiences or to ask questions, please join our LinkedIn group for LinkedIn Users! (of course we have a LinkedIn group for that!)

If you don't have a LinkedIn profile yet, now is a great time to get one. It is free and you control what information is shared. More importantly, it opens doors for professional networking that will deliver real benefits to you and your organization.

Want more information about how to craft a social media strategy for your organization?

Read about our "Social Media Strategy Accelerator" program or contact us for more information.