“Social Media is not short term. When you engage in social media, you’re in it for the long haul.” This is a common idea shared at most social media conferences, and from time to time, you may hear me utter something similar, but it is normally connected to my thoughts on the “social media campaign.”
Yep, I said it: social media campaign (Cue the dramatic music for the naysayers). I know that social media takes time and should be undertaken with a long term strategy in mind, but being in it for the long haul doesn’t mean that your program will run forever. When you are thinking about how you will engage in social media, you need to plan for both your entrance and your exit.
At the last meeting of the DC Chapter of the National Black Public Relations Society, I joined two other great panelists in sharing thoughts for a session on Strategic Social Media. I developed a presentation which focused on the following steps for developing a social media strategy:
- Listen – Learn more about the current conversation.
- Map it Out – Identify key players to connect with.
- Get Help – Read the latest tips from industry thought leaders.
- Do It Yourself (DIY) – Craft a tailor-made strategy.
- Make Rules of Engagement – A guide for assessment and response.
- Exit Strategy – A plan for how to evolve the campaign.
I really drilled down into my reasoning for listening because it is so integral to coming up with a good strategy, but I also wanted to focus a bit on the idea of an exit strategy because I think it often gets overlooked as we move full speed ahead towards implementation.
Here’s a simple illustration of how I view social media engagement:
Layer 1: The Decision to Engage
Layer 1 is very straightforward. It represents the period of time during which your organization is committed to being engaged online in social media, right from the moment the green light is given to begin planning until the bittersweet end.
Layer 2: Communication Channels
The next layer includes a few activities and channels of communication that you may use throughout to engage. For most groups, this will include blogging, podcasting and/or some form of video (Speeches, Events, Members/Dollars in Action).
Layer 3: Exit Strategy
The top layer is where things get interesting. This is where exit strategy comes into play. Many plan for social media campaigns to run like layer 1 or 2, one constant line moving forward or little pieces of activity here and there.
Layer 3 represents my view of how the social media campaign should be for most groups. Note, as we move from left to right, the arrow is getting larger and includes several phases. Your social media campaign, if successful, should be growing and evolving over time. Phase 1 will bring you out of the gate, but as you plan for that first campaign, you should be thinking of what will follow. If you meet all of your goals, what will be next?
If you’re building a social network, is there a plan for adding new features or empowering members to take a greater role in the process?
The arrow that I have displayed continues to grow, but this may not apply to every situation. At some point the campaign will have run its course. Do you have a plan for how to bring things to a close? To transition from campaign 1 to 2?
Things may change as time goes on, but it is always good to have an exit strategy in place.