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 CEOs GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA IN 5 STEPS

The CEO's Guide to Social Media | 5 Steps to Align Social Media to Your Business Objectives

Too many CEOs sit on the social media sideline because they lack the understanding in how to align and leverage social media with their existing business objectives. Even within progressive enterprises, more Web 2.0 initiatives are launched from the lunch room than the board room. Each social media constituency has its own goals and when CEOs attempt to extrapolate their existing objectives of increasing revenues, decreasing costs or reducing risk with new social media tools and technologies operated by Gen Y or other stakeholders for different purposes they encounter a divide which often rebuffs social media as out of tune with the company’s most strategic objectives. However, this all too common experience is analogous to putting the cart before the horse and reinforces the need to start with strategy and objectives and then seek out the supporting tools and technologies.

To craft your own business strategy to social media alignment consider the below five step approach.

First, educate yourself with social media. Social media, sometimes called Web 2.0, is an online collaboration phenomenon characterized by engaged communication manifested through social networking sites, blogs, wikis, community forums and RSS syndication. Thoughtful business leaders are experimenting with new methods to communicate pursuant to customer preferences, to elevate the conversation to a bi-directional exchange, and to engage the customer in a way that delivers useful knowledge to both parties. This business strategy goes well beyond just making the customer feel important and in fact, makes the customer an extension of the R&D team, the marketing team, the advertising team, or any other line of business that benefits from direct contribution by the ultimate product or service recipient.

Second, determine whether your target market is getting social. Buyers of IT and other B2B solutions are increasingly using social networks, online product reviews, tweets and the advice of online peers to short list vendor solutions, shorten their procurement process and influence their final selection. In fact, for many types of products and services, online peer reviews have become the most sought after and trusted source for accelerating buyer education and short-listing product finalists.

Third, figure out how to align your strategic objectives with social media tools and technologies. Chances are your top objectives do not include building a Twitter following or growing a Facebook fans page. However, if your objectives include increasing the marketing budget ROI, generating more qualified leads, growing customer share or decreasing customer churn, you should be able to find a direct and measurable link between social media tools and achieving your objectives. Tapping into the communities where your customers complain and compliment, invoke questions and answers, seek to listen and be heard, and inquire for solutions is the logical starting point for aligning emerging media with existing business objectives.

Fourth, leverage case studies and the successes of others to replicate your own social media accomplishments. Many pioneers have proven that social media projects and measurable ROI are not mutually exclusive. Early social media successes included online peer to peer forums to lower customer support costs, tweeting headlines or promotion titles to measure responses and optimize marketing messages, harvesting user generated content from social networks to feed the R&D engine or retrieving user inquiries or broadcasts to increase sales of consumer goods and services.

Lastly, start a blog. Social customers want open and transparent access to the executive ranks of their solution providers. Satisfying their desire for communication and partnership can unquestionably grow sales and customer retention. As the company’s visionary and top communicator, a CEO blog is a simple and effective communication channel to engage your target market and make the social relationship bi-directional. See [other POST] for the best practices in creating a CEO blog.

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READER COMMENTS

By Paul Kelly
My IT manager suggests that social media tools are not yet secure. Are these tools any more or less secure that other software?

Like all software and technology tools, social media applications require information security review, preparedness and user education. While threats and vulnerabilities are varied, the most common types of exploits include information leakage and phishing attacks.

Information leakage occurs when careless or uninformed staff disclose confidential or privileged information. This vulnerability can be managed with a combination of user education, company policy and technology tools such as web content filters. Phishing attacks arrive in many flavors, however, a common threat occurs when victims receive electronic messages which appear to be from a Facebook friend, LinkedIn contact, Twitter follower or the like. The phony friend sends an appealing message or headline comment containing a URL link which leads to a malware ridden website. Upon accessing the unsuspecting website, malware is loaded onto the user’s computer, which then potentially propagates to the enterprise network.

Prohibiting access to social networks is impractical and certainly prevents the enterprise from achieving legitimate business objectives. Further, the types of exploits susceptible by social media tools are similarly susceptible from email and general web surfing. As with most information security initiatives, the best approach is likely a balance of security awareness education, policy training and implementation of security tools.

comments

By anonymous
I’m looking for a twitter client application and I’ve found TweetDeck. Are there other popular twitter clients that I should consider?

Yes, the growth of Twitter has spawned many Twitter clients with different purposes and advantages. The most popular Twitter clients (listed in market share order) include:

  1. TweetDeck, www.tweetdeck.com
  2. Tweetie, www.atebits.com
  3. HootSuite, www.hootsuite.com
  4. Twhirl, www.twhirl.org
  5. Twitterfon, www.twitterfon.net
  6. Seesmic, www.seesmic.com
  7. Ping.fm, www.ping.fm
  8. UberTwitter, www.ubertwitter.com
  9. Twitterrific, www.twitterrific.com
  10. TwitterFox, www.twitterfox.net
  11. twAitter, www.twaitter.com

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