Social Media FAQ #4: How Do I Launch My Social Media Program?

I’m starting a new series, called Social Media Frequently Asked Questions. It’s a collection of the top asked questions I hear over and over. I’m putting them here on my blog is a great place to help everyone quickly get educated, convince their boss, or be able to help their clients get over these hurdles, so please, pass them around.

If you’re seeking advanced topics, cruise through the web strategy posts (it goes back pages and pages)

Social Media FAQ #4: How Do I Launch My Social Media Program?

Companies unsure how to launch
Most companies are used to announcing products or initiatives using press releases, advertising, media influence, and even analyst influence. While many companies are toe dipping in the social media waters (The majority still have not, I’ve seen some adoption data from work) so there’s still many questions on what to do once you launch your blog, community site, podcast, etc.

Unlike Traditional Marketing
First of all, the term “launch” is the wrong way to think about this. Launch implies a single effort, getting a program in the air, and letting go, social media efforts are long term, and require a different approach, here’s how to approach it: think grassroots, not big bang.

The first thing to do is to remember this is unlike traditional marketing efforts. Remember that trust is highest between customers-to-prospect, not marketer-to-prospect. The next time you buy an item, think about who you trust more, a friend who has the product, or a marketer from that company. Therefore, the most effective way to announce your social media program is to get those in your community to announce it for you.

Tactics vary
In many cases, companies experiment internally with tools, and then launch a public social media program quietly, and let it build up momentum through natural word of mouth spread.

When a company wants to boost it’s presence, there’s quite a few ways to do this: 1) Link to the blogs, communities in your marketplace, add value from your own social media properties. 2) Join existing communities by leaving comments that add value, be an ongoing member of the community you’re trying to reach 3) For the sophisticated, provide special access to influencers in your market to announce, join, or co-create your social media programs.

The goal for this exercise is simple, your employees, using social media tools, is to engage your community by interacting with them, being relevant, and adding valuable content to them (which is often, not marketing content) to your community. The objective is for them to respond to you, and sing your praises on your behalf. We’ll explore more advanced goals in future posts.

While I think good things are going to come out of ebay’s social media effort, to some, going the route of mainstream media to announce a groundswell effort seems counterintuitive.