Social Media Lessons Learned – #SMRTCCE

The Social Media Research & Techniques (#SMRTCCE) course at McMaster University is coming to a close.  One of the most valued lessons I have learned from this course is that peer sharing is very important. This offers professional development as individual communicators, but also to support the development of best practices within our industry.

Three points brought up during this course were important reminders to me:

Research is the cornerstone of all Social Media Strategies

Research offers the benchmark for the entire plan.  Without research you can’t answer the important questions of: who, what, why, when and where.  Like any race, if you don’t know where the starting line is, you won’t be able to know if you won (among other things).  ‘Gut instinct’ is fine to use for part of your research, but spend the time and money to get some hard metrics – your success depends on it.

Best evaluation of Social Media efforts requires human intervention

Software tools are plentiful, but many are still in the beta / development stage.  Yes, they can get the hard metrics for you.  However, when it comes to measuring sentiment, the human experience is indispensable.

“Please” trumps “I am sorry” every time

Ask permission before posting anything – quotes, photos, etc.  Do not assume that since you personally think it is okay (because YOU would be okay with it), that this is true for everyone else.  Not only will this help protect you (the professional) against possible liability, but will also demonstrate good character to those around you.  A good reputation is incredibly valuable and takes a long time to acquire, so take care of it.  Even though “I am sorry” goes a long way when a mistake is made (none of us are perfect), remembering to say “please” is the better way.

Social Media (as a business communication tool) has grown up, and now has acquired enough history behind it to be able to evaluate, learn, and re-direct as needed.  The readily available information shared by experts in this field (in the areas of research, planning, execution, and evaluation) will make it easier for those just starting to introduce Social Media into their business practices.  For those who want to take Social Media to the next stage, and start using Social Media as part of their strategic planning, this information will be even more helpful.  But there is a lot of so-called ‘expert’ advice out there.  Look for those thought leaders that have experience using Social Media as a tool to support business objectives, that will offer metrics to support a good ROI (Return on Investment) for social media , and that have experience in various aspects of business (not just within marketing or public relations).

My professional road map…

  1. Continue to work with small businesses in the area of strategic communications to support their business objectives.
  2. Take the next course in the Public Relations Diploma program at McMaster University this Fall (learning never ends!)
  3. Spend more time networking with other communicators to support best practice development within our industry.