Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Start at the beginning. Duh.

But in social media, the “beginning” isn’t always clear. I thought today, we’d start with some of the first steps a company can take before starting their social media program. If you’re somewhere in the middle here, its OK, just go back and start through the process.

Step 1. What are our business goals? 

Take a deep breath and think about what business should look like at the end of 2012 and at the end of 2015. What’s it going to take to get there?
How can marketing support sales across all channels?
What particular platforms will be best to support the initiatives that support sales?
Step 2: Social Media, Are We Ready?

Take a good hard look at your company and its resources.

What does success look like? How will we know we’ve succeeded? What are we trying to accomplish?

Resources: Do you have the time and the talent for social media? Who can participate in our social media’s presence, can we expand it past the usual suspects? What are the gaps in talent or time? Can those pieces be supplemented with assistance?

Digital Inventory: Is our website meeting our business objectives? What do we REALLY want our website to do? Is our website designed to support our social presence in terms of messaging, content? How is our website being used now?

What’s the role of search & PPC? If we are using search and paid online advertising or CPC, how will our social media work with our messaging and search goals?

Culture: What communication flows need to be considered? What would we do in the case of crisis? Who is responsible and does everyone know their roles? How will our culture be supported by social media?

Business Considerations: Do we have product or customer service concerns which we should be prepared to address in our social presence?  Do we have an existing reputation that we will need to overcome to develop social trust?

2. What do we really want to say?

Messaging: Have we defined, clearly the top key points we want to make? Have we taken the time to make sure these key messages are known throughout the company? What stands out about our company?

Audience Support: What’s really important to our audience? How can we support them? Involve them? How can we let them know that what’s important to them is important to us?

Long Term Calendar: Have we thought through a long-term editorial calendar for our social presence? What will we post how and when?

3. How can we elicit emotional responses?

Our Audience: What are they passionate about? How does that relate with what we do/sell? How can we create relationships with our audiences? How do our customers/clients see themselves and how can we help them enhance their vision of themselves?

When/What to Share: Are we sharing information designed to share? Are we making the most of photos, videos, graphics?  How is what we are sharing elicit emotion and support our key messaging?

4. What platforms work for us? 

Goals: What platforms will support our immediate and long-term business goals best?

Time: What do we have time for?  Can we be committed to more than one platform? What platform supports the type of content we’re likely to share?

Bang for buck? Who are our customers and where are they spending their time?