Expanding Your Social Media Networks

May 1, 2013
71 Views

As public health people, we’ve got the family planning messages down. We know how to advise folks in their reproductive years about what to expect and the kinds of things to think about if they are considering expanding their families.

As public health people, we’ve got the family planning messages down. We know how to advise folks in their reproductive years about what to expect and the kinds of things to think about if they are considering expanding their families.

What we sometimes lack is the ability to plan for expanding our own social media families. How do you know when it’s time to start tweeting? Pinning? YouTubing? Instagramming? Expanding social networks requires thoughtful planning, risk assessment and a sustainability strategy. (Bureaucratic note – I am not suggesting a glacial-speed process to plan!)Image

Is there a new social network in your future? Plan for it.

Am I ready to support another social network until maturity and beyond?

Adoption is not an option for your social network. Once you have set up expectations for your community of followers, you want to be able to maintain your organization’s reputation.

Think of the networks from a parent perspective:

The terrible twos – red tape around technology, heavy approval processes for content and the desire to emphasize push over pull.

The teenage years bring an increasing awareness of social media, but not necessarily an understanding of how to best leverage each platform for it’s specific audience. How will you manage the demands for staff training on the new network? How will you respond when a crisis happens or there’s a dip in efforts to curate real-time content?

The 20s may mean your social networks change hands from a centralized spot to more involvement from program staff or senior management. What does this mean for branding?

Do you know what it costs to support another social network?

Yes, social networking is free, but it requires resources to ensure it’s success.  Resources can include staff (your community  managers) and money (paid advertising for promotion, software for monitoring and management). Starting off free is great, but think of it like this…will you sign your little one up for ballet and not budget for a tutu?

Who else will be involved in the life of this social network?

Your social networks will likely have an extended family – program area staff and managers, communications, senior management, legal, IT, information or privacy leads and others.

Much like real family, you will love ‘em most of the time and other times they will get on your nerves. How will you negotiate these dynamics? How much say will they have in the life of the social network? Who will have access to posting and responding? Who makes what decisions? Who owns the content? Who is responsible for approvals, customer inquiries, new content, photo editing, etc.?

Your senior management will likely play a role in these decisions, be sure to get them on board.

What kind of social network parent will you be?

What will be the style of social network parenting you will embrace? Engaging? Broadcasting? What kind of personality will your social network have? How will you deal with a crisis? With mistakes?

The personality may evolve develop as it “grows up” and the new networks evolve. Thinking about it early can help you set some general standards around the quality of engagement you hope to have.


What have been your experiences with joining new social networks at your healthcare organization?

image:socialmedia/shutterstock
    

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