Incorporating the world of social media into an existing business can be challenging. And scary. You want to get involved and building community, but where do you start? How do you start? Which tools and materials are the most relevant for a specific business? The number of choices is overwhelming and growing all the time.
If you have a start-up, it's easier to bake social media plans right into the initial marketing and communications strategy. Established businesses have a tougher time -- they've made significant investments in brand building and customer loyalty that didn't involve social media. A few efforts in social media that lack authenticity and the business will be hung out to dry by every power that exists in social media land.
I was tooling around on slideshare recently and found a presentation by Mayo Clinic that described their journey into the uncertain world of social media. With a brand this powerful and with so much debate swirling about patient privacy, Mayo Clinic took a risk by testing social media's potential to increase their impact and reach. A few of the key points touched upon in the presentation are key for any business interested in a similar pursuit and they're good reminders for all of us whenever we take on a large project in unfamiliar territory:
1.) Start small. Mayo Clinic could have came into the world of social media guns a-blazin', hopping on to every social media service available. They didn't. They first assembled a space on their website that tracked all of the stories about them showing up in traditional media, and gave people a way to respond to those stories through comments on their own site. The branded this site 'Medical Edge'. Smart - they got a lot of great feedback and leveraged written material that already existed.
2.) Use what's free and available from others first rather than building your own platform from scratch. Mayo Clinic took advantage of the iTune platform to first create radio mp3s. Then it graduated to podcasts, more and longer podcasts, and then eventually built its own platform at podcasts.mayoclinic.org. Rather than jumping right in and building their own platform, they wanted to see if there was even any interest in this type of material and they experimented with length and topics. Might as well learn on someone else's platform before you build your own.
3.) Use what works. For some organizations, a blog and a Twitter account are the best vehicles for building community. Others find that Facebook Groups work really well for them. For Mayo Clinic, it's videos. That shared experience by real people who are a part of the Mayo Clinic global community provided the most bang for the buck. And with a Flip video camera, the interviews became very easy to record, edit, and post - first to YouTube and then to their own sharing platform at sharing.mayoclinic.org.
These small tips added up to big impact for Mayo Clinic, an established brand that found a way to make social media work for them by taking small steps forward. They are flourishing in the world of social media and can be found participating in multiple outlets. They went slowly, and took the time to discover which path suited them best. It's a wonderful framework to consider. Find it at http://www.slideshare.net/LeeAase/mayo-clinic-best-of-blogwell09