Deciphering Social Networks - April 2010 Marketing Blog

One of our sales people said to me, "why would anyone want to do Foursquare, I understand it, but why would I do it?"  If you don't know what Foursquare is www.foursquare.com, it is a micro-blogging site, much like Twitter but with a Farmville type of twist. Excuse me if you don't know what Farmville is it is a Facebook game. Anyway, with Foursquare you can tell your network where you are and gain points and prizes. Businesses can create these games for users to participate in and grant them points. So if you are a local staffing company office, you can set something up in Foursquare and have people find you. It could be a clever marketing approach for local offices.

The question remains all of these social networking tools are both opportunities and threats. As we have discussed before: which ones do you participate in?; who does the work?; what is your plan? and how do you measure? More importantly how to you get consistent voices from the various people in your organization who might participate?

The big social networking sites as most of you know are: Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Then there are so many others, which are equally as popular but are somewhat different: StumbleUpon, Delicious, Plaxo, Ning, Digg and so many others. Then there are the tools to monitor all of these applications including: Hootsuite which monitors Twitter posts; Co-Tweet which monitors keywords and trends; SocialTalk which is a dashboard application that allows users to monitor multiple social networking sites and again so many others.

Another concern is security. The biggest issue being risks associated with corporate data. Social networks can expose intellectual property, internal procedures and policy to the public and competitors.

So how do you make sense of it all? It is difficult; there is no question about it. But the pressure to participate in social networking just continues to grow, you have to make a business decision to get in now or miss the opportunity. Social networking is not going away; it is just growing, compounding and changing daily. So dive in and get educated. Websites such as www.mashable.com can help, so can www.readwriteweb.com. Attend a webinar or conference on social media. B to B offers several and talk to colleagues. Use Staffing Industry Analysts webinars and conferences to meet and discuss social networking with your colleagues. For those of you who are attending or considering attending Staffing Industry Analysts' Healthcare Summit, we are having a panel on social media.

Below are some next steps for you to consider:

Next Steps

1.     We have discussed this before, the first thing you need to do with social media and social networks is to have a plan. Assign someone the job. Whether that is your head of marketing, the company president, some smart kid who knows all of this stuff who works for your company, give the job to someone

2.       Create a plan or have the person who you just assigned to be your social networking czar write a plan

3.       Get buy off of the plan from executive management, marketing management and your folks in the field

4.       Decide, as part of the plan where you are going to be, and be there consistently

5.       Monitor your social media. Whether you use one of the applications above to monitor or you just check Facebook and Twitter regularly for mentions, fans, etc. monitor activity

6.       Don't grow your social media platforms until you have firmly established yourself somewhere. Just simply adding another platform is more confusing to your followers who are looking for consistent information

7.       Keep on educating yourself on the various platforms. Social networking sites are bountiful. There seem to be new sites popping up every day. Every day I learn about a new site or a new tool. The Apple iPhone and iPad are generating new applications on their own. Monitor the new applications and see if they are useful to you

8.       Protect your corporate data by educating your staff. Define what is in bounds and out of bounds for posting. Monitor your staff's postings so you can see if there is something that shouldn't be posted, remember it is your corporate data that is at risk. Set policy, train and keep on training.

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