January 30, 2007 by Colin
In the evolving world of social media, it’s the wild fliers you have to look for, you know. That solid homerun with the unintended consequences. Like a blogger relations strategy that goes hinky. Or a word of mouth campaign that slowly builds up some substantial and negative street-level karma.
It’s like going to a baseball game with the gang from work and witnessing a homerun derby – then discovering that one of the homeruns went through the windshield of the boss’ Escalade.
What’s the point of selling the management team on a new and innovative strategy if you don’t outline some of the risks that may accompany it? A capable counsellor always tempers their pie-in-the-sky projections with a dose of reality. For example: our blogger relations program could help influence online opinion of our new program – or it could really irritate one particularly influential commentator.
Preparing the groundwork before launching your new communications strategy will insulate it from unintended consequences.
Some ways a social media strategy can go hinky:
- You target bloggers with an unrelated interest or specialty, and they write about it
- Your new campaign comes with eau de toilette: the specialists you hired have screwed up so many campaigns in the past their work is automatically discounted
- Over-hyping your innovative new outreach strategy to the traditional media alienates social media and online outlets
- Hip to be square: trying to look edgy and innovative never sells as well as you’d imagined
- The bloggers you target aren’t transparent about their relationship, but the blame blows back on your company
- That new car smell: the executives get so excited about trying something new that they overlook the poor fit with actual business strategy. They later abandon the project without support
- One of your executives tries to influence the company’s Wikipedia page
- Your street team hires a: felon/female impersonator/ladie’s man
How to prepare for potential risks:
- Make sure the pitch for the business includes a dose of reality
- The social media evangelist should be accompanied by a strategist who can draw the whole media picture. A sober second voice, if you will. Maybe even a planner…
- Follow up on that dose of reality: schedule a discussion of how past social media campaigns have rolled out – including the unmitigated disasters
- The strategy should dentify how to respond to possible complications/crises. This will force everyone involved to work through responsibilities and roles before the crunch comes.
- The customer relations team/call centre HAS to be briefed on the strategy: they’ll be the first to hear of any problems
Any other suggestions?