What Is Your Plan?

by Jay Deragon on 10/23/2008

As the landscape of the social web explodes with developments, new entrants and increased utility, business leaders wonder how to capture the attraction of all this “social stuff” to meet business objectives. Leveraging social technologies is becoming an important aspect of any strategic planning process as more and more markets move to the medium…

The POST Method: A systematic approach to social strategy

Josh Bernoff of Forrester writes: In any other business endeavor we start by figuring out what we want to accomplish. Social technologies are not magic. They accomplish things, too. It’s time to stop doing social because it’s cool. It’s time to start doing it because it’s effective.

To help clients with this fundamental idea, we invented a little acronym called POST. It’s been one of the most popular ideas we’ve ever created, even though it’s so simple and commonsensical. If you were at our consumer forum in October you saw it (and many of you who were there contacted us afterwards for help with your strategies). It’s at the heart of our book Groundswell. Now I’m sharing it with all of you.

P is People. Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don’t start without thinking about it.

O is objectives. Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it.

S is Strategy. Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterwards? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin.

T is Technology. A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.

Apply Strategic Processes to Post

An older strategic method called SWOT analysis allows the business to gain an insight into their strengths and weaknesses and also the opportunities and threats posed by the market within which they operate. The older method of SWOT analysis applies to the context analysis of social media because unless you understand your S.W.O.T.’s how can you expect to strategical address the right needs using social media.

The S.W.O.T. process requires research and analysis of current and future likely factors of social media and its impact on business strategies. When evaluating these factors, the use of an interrelationship and affinity diagram enables us to sort through the collective meaning of the factors and then categorize them—meaning determining the rank and how the categories relate to or influence each other.

The question of relationship between the categories is one of “which drives the other most to least” with subsequent outcomes being out/in arrows. The category with the most out arrows is determined as having the greatest influence on the collective factor outcomes. The analysis is likely to produce different outcomes by individual, organizations or institution in context to their opportunities to leverage their social media objectives within the emerging space.

Each business factor may produce different results based on the context of What can we do to leverage social media to our advantage?” That question establishes the direction of the above example by shaping the context for analysis. Subsequently the outcomes of the exercises provide the roadmap for prioritization of initiatives, actions or investments aimed at accomplishing the defined objectives. Defining Socialutions for business is using an organized body of people who have an interest, activity, or purpose in common. The body of people in your business goes beyond marketing and unless all parties are “connected” to the purpose social media could hurt your business.

One thing is certain. Unless you have a plan of strategies, initiatives, measures and knowledge then the end result may not be what you wanted for your business. Get it?

What say you?

Get the white paper: Leveraging Social Media for Business here

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