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Color Inside the Social Media Lines

I had a great conversation with someone today who calls herself the Accidental Director of Communications for a church in St. Louis. I was first impressed with a church that was forward thinking enough to even have a Director of Communications let alone someone who utilizes social media like Twitter and Facebook to accomplish her goals. I was amused how she described herself as being “accidental” since she has neither a marketing or communications background. What she does have is a passion for her work. What makes her effective, though, is the fact that she is smart enough to harness that passion.

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While it may run counter to the “go-go get ’em get ’em” mantra of the world, it is important to realize some important social media guidelines. I don’t like the term rules as they apply to social media, because outside of just not being an abusive jerk, there really are no rules. “Guidelines” is a better term because it implies flexibility. If nothing else, we all need to remain flexible with our social media habit.
One piece of wisdom that she imparted to me was that she clearly defines what she is looking to accomplish through social media outlets, and does not allow herself to color outside the lines. At first I thought that this was rather restrictive considering the nature of social media. After actually thinking for a minute though I saw the wisdom of this. By sticking to a clear objective and not straying, I realized that the following could occur with a social media campaign or effort. This simple guideline can result in:

  • Better measurements. If you stay within a specific range of actions, then your measurements become more accurate. You don’t need to guess what part of your social media persona got the results. If you remain consistent, then you will know that any measurement is the result of a specific action you intended to take.
  • More consistent message. By staying on message, that message becomes more defined and distinct. By straying, you water down the meaning of your message by taking attention away from it. Not smart when you are trying to get your point across.
  • Fewer screw ups. By staying on point, you decrease your chances of having some exchange with someone that will take you down the wrong path. If someone is trying to engage you and make you mess up by getting you out of your comfort zone, you can deflect them easily by not going beyond your preset boundaries.
  • Repeatability. Call it replication or whatever you want, but if you are in a large enough organization, you might need to have more than one person involved in this kind of activity. Clear definition and purpose around what you are looking to achieve through social media will let someone else come in and take the same message further.

Like anything else in social media, there are a million more angles to this as well as many more guidelines to consider. Do you have one that you would like to offer to the conversation? We need your voice and experience. This is the wild west, after all, and there is safety in numbers.

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