I would point to six core components.
• Help in analyzing the online market. I think this requires an aptitude toward anthropology. And communicating that to the key executives and employees.
• Help in tracking metrics. The small busines tool of choice right now seems like Techrigy and Google analytics.
• Help in creating online policy for employees or at least providing guidance or examples.
• Help in getting off the ground both internally and externally.
• Surprisingly this later part involves a bit of coaching. Most executives face real time crunches (or at least perceived time crunches) and changing their behavior is generally not something that happens overnight.
• Some notion of best practices and some sort of model to look toward.
I think this is hopelessly incomplete. What do other folks think?
Strategy with goals clearly defined. For example, what does the company wish to accomplish with online tools today? What platforms will the consultant utilize to achieve the desired outcome? How and who within the organization will be involved?
Blogs?Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Ning? Digg? Youtube? The list is endless. Streaming media? (with my market, events, entertainment are involved), so you must know the company, industry, and goals. More, of course, but a strategy must be created first.
We take social media very seriously with our clients. Just like any other initiative that we put into place it has a series of tactical steps in order to achieve an over arching strategy, with a specific campaign objective. These are our steps:
1. Determine with client what the objective is.
2 Determine what is the best means of achieving that objective. Social Media isn't always the solution, or it may be just a component of the solution. We have a competitor in town who tells their clients they are social media experts and then charge the client too much for them to tweet and blog. They do this every time and it makes me mad. Don't do this. It gives social media a bad name.
3. If SM is the right solution, we research. We look at who is talking about what our client and their competitors are doing. We see if the tone of the conversations are positive or negative. We look at the top 20 hubs of SM buzz and study the content swirling around it and how far out the viral aspect of the content extends.
4. Once we have pulled together all our facts and figures, we determine the best 5 sources to approach with information. We approach our best bets and offer them exclusive content and information. We let them break the news. What we provide can range from interviews, video, trials, whatever is right and appealing.
5. Once the seeds have been planted we monitor. See who and how they respond.
6. We then approach the appropriate second and third level influencers and start a discussion with them. We act on behalf of our clients. This is public relations – so we set up a communications guide, outlining what can, can't and should be said. This approach also allows us to make the client appear even more special. If we need, we can call on the client to come into a conversation - creating the appearance that the client feels the problem so important that they want to talk directly with the person we're communicating with.
7. This entire time we monitor the map of influence and track who is talking about our client and making sure that we are providing content that helps achieve the objective.
8. We generally run these campaigns for about 6 weeks, depending on the size, importance, or relevance of the objective.
9. Response to the campaign is then tracked through sales, inquiries, and site visits. Again, it depends on what the campaign is supposed to achieve. But we can generally track the increase pretty distinctly from the start of the campaign and the two to three weeks following.
10. Of course there are added benefits, such as SEO, and the lingering presence of the campaign, which continues a resonant effect on the sales and participation. But by this time, we've moved on to the next campaign.
Thanks everyone for your inputs. I am running one campaign right now and will be acting on my client's behalf to interact with their stakeholders. It will be a PR sort of campaign and it's transparent enough that they know I don't work for the company but with them.
I will be posting another question soon. Hope to gain more valuable inputs from you guys. Cheers!