Thursday, January 10, 2008

6 Questions for your Social Media Operation

Social media offers an unparalleled opportunity for the political strategist to drive action through existing online networks, whether it be within Facebook or MySpace, among blogs, or other forms of online interaction. Targeted, focused action has thus far proven to be most effective and viral, as Move On and a few others have discovered.

Below are 6 questions to ask yourself / your web team / your dedicated social media strategist, to get the juices flowing for your social media operation:

1. Is the action focused enough? Can it be broken down into smaller pieces?
The field is green. The sky is blue. The ocean is vast. Whatever your favorite metaphor, the social media space is very new and evolving all the time. Investing significant resources in developing a large, ind-depth program at the outset is not wise. Plus, the more you attempt to throw in the first time the more muddled your message gets. Keep it clean and simple.
2. Is the click path as simple / easy / clear as possible?
As with the action, the actual path through which you drive your users must be clean, simple and intuitive. This is new to them too - offering too many options or unclear direction creates obstacles you do not need.
3. Does the user get benefit, perceived or actual?
There is a vast wasteland of social media efforts that fail, from blogs to Facebook applications to everything in between. Much of the reason is that the benefit provided either doesn't exist, or is hidden / unclear. Keep it simple and crisp.
4. Does the action spur engagement of the user's network?
Benefit is not enough - the action must also engage users in the action. Connecting the action to a conversation has proven fruitful thus far.
5. Am I using all resources available to communicate within the chosen channel?
For blogs, it is not enough to publish. You also must participate in the conversation within other like-minded blogs. You can't expect others to converse with you on your domain if you don' also return the favor.

For social networks, the options are growing by the day. Do you focus on Facebook, MySpace or Bebo? Within Facebook do you produce your own application or do you rely on their Pages system? The rabbit holes are deep, but to find that magic formula, you have to dig to discern what works for you and your audience.
6. Are my efforts aligned with my organization's overall goals?
Many folks forget the realities of any marketing effort, as the gold rush ensues. Just as economic realities popped the bubble of the late 90s, so too will they pop efforts and investments outside the guardrails of your organization. If you are a political campaign, why are you driving users to "favorite" news clips? If you are driving an action to participate in a conversation, why only allow a single question?

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