From Planning to Action – Expanding Your Social Networks.

Yesterday we used family planning as a metaphor for planning social media expansion at your organization. Today we’re assuming you’ve decided that you want to welcome a new bundle of joy in the form of a social network into your organization.

Here’s what you need to consider in order to grow your social networks thoughtfully and strategically:

How do you want to go about expanding your social networks?

  • Do you want to create organization-wide accounts? Topic specific? Program specific? Audience specific? Expert specific?

  • Does it make sense to partner with another program area or like-minded organization to collaborate on content?

  • How will this new social network work with your existing social networks?

  • How are people using the social networks you are interested in? For example, Pinterest is extremely popular among mothers. A natural connection to be made is to start putting out parent-relevant content on Pinterest (e.g. breastfeeding info). However, when we look at the activity of moms on Pinterest – we see that the most popular content being pinned is about food.

What’s your content strategy?

Signing up for a new social network is usually free and pretty simple.  So…now that you’ve opened up this new account, what are you going to post on it? Cross-posting content from your existing social networks doesn’t give your audience a new reason to follow you.  Keep the content dynamic, engaging and social network specific (i.e. pinning text-heavy images = big no-no).

Consider these questions:

  • Will you be giving the audience a sneak peek into your organization through staff photos?
  • How often will you create new content?
  • Is sharing content from like-minded organizations part of your strategy?
  • How far in advance will you develop content?
  • Who needs to approve the content?
  • How will you leverage context (news, events, entertainment) to enhance your content?

Protect yourself against unwanted social networks.

Once social media gets rolling in your organization and you’ve achieved a certain level of trust and comfort among senior management, the ground swell may begin. Staff may want to have their own accounts (e.g. dietitians, epidemiologists) or a program may want to run their own network (e.g. air quality, immunization). This is a good thing, but you may have people wanting to open social media accounts without thinking through the right things.

  • Communicate the risks and benefits

  • Teach social media as a communications tool

  • Provide guidance on what makes content successful on particular networks

  • Educate on how people are using social networks (so they can avoid the blow-horn-all-news-all-the-time kinds of accounts)

  • Create a social media communications plan

Has social network expansion at your organization been a win or a fail?

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2 responses to “From Planning to Action – Expanding Your Social Networks.

  1. Ideas are great. Planning for action is a different beast. This post reminds us to get back down to earth so that social media commitments are sustainable. When an organization hasn’t posed in weeks, months or years they lose credibility among users.

    • Very true… I periodically go through my list of accounts I follow on Twitter using justunfollow and look at when the last time was an org has tweeted.

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