Social media: Five steps to help you look before you leap

By Dodge Communications on May 3rd, 2010

Social media offers the promise of far-reaching, online exposure at a relatively low cost. And today in healthcare B2B marketing, having a social media program as part as your overall promotional efforts is now more likely the norm than the differentiator. But there are companies that rush into social media marketing programs without a true strategy.  They recognize the value, but  fail to map out the right amount of time, budget and other resources they will need to devote to social media activities in order for such a program to be successful. With such a low barrier to entry, it's easy for companies to rush into social media and forget that they should still be approaching it with the same considerations that they would with any other marketing method.

BEFORE even beginning a campaign, it is important to:

  1. Research the available social media opportunities and spend some time reviewing and discussing best practices for each. A little extra effort on the front end in fully understanding how you would use each tool effectively is the key to not wasting hours upon hours throughout the process with something that ends up offering little value to your objectives.
  2. Know what your competitors are doing and how aggressive a strategy they have. Gauging your competitors’ involvement in social media can be a helpful consideration as a baseline when selecting how aggressive you want to be and which tools to utilize.
  3. Determine the resources you can devote to cultivating your social media brand in order to see the biggest impact. Social media can only be what you make of it, and an effective online marketing program takes time and effort to build. You should limit your program to only the efforts in which you have enough time to keep up with. Nothing is worse than having a blog in which the latest post is dated several months ago.
  4. Evaluate your need for outside resources. When internal time and/or expertise is limited, engaging assistance from an outside marketing and social media agency can help to ensure the process runs smoothly from start to finish. Depending on your program, the need for additional resources such as Web designers and bloggers (if not available through the marketing agency) may need to be evaluated.
  5. Select responsible parties to be accountable for the program. Social media should be a focus for the whole organization, but there should be designated people who manage specific functions (e.g. blog administrator, Twitter or Facebook account representative, blog post authors, etc.).

Whatever the level of social media program, strategizing beforehand and having the right plan and approach can make a world of difference in maximizing the success of your efforts and achieving your set objectives. Even with a minimal ongoing time and resource investment, your network will grow, your brand will gain visibility, your inbound links will increase and you’ll be leveraging social media as the transformational tool that it truly is.