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Commentary: Social media use may begin from within

Matt Smedley
Dolan Media Newswires

Portland, OR – Social media are everywhere these days, and many businesses are looking for ways to participate in this brave new world – or at least understand it. One thing is certain: Most organizations have realized that there is some sort of business opportunity to be had by utilizing these new media.

But many companies simply do not know how to begin building an effective social media strategy. What few companies realize is that all they often need to do is look within their own organizations to find the knowledgeable staff required to implement any kind of social media program. Many companies have staff members who know a great deal about social media and can be highly valuable resources.

Perhaps your organization isn’t ready to dive head first into social media, but instead wants to “stick its toe into the waters.” Start by utilizing staff members who are using the different social media applications such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or FriendFeed. Ask these people what they think the company should be doing. There is a high probability that your employees are interacting with other companies on several social media sites. It is from their experiences that your company can start formulating a plan to participate in a world that has become all about being social.

The following are a few steps that you and your company’s social media thought leaders can implement to get started.

First, engage your employees and HR department to help develop a social media policy if your company doesn’t already have one. The last thing you want is a rogue employee blogging in a way that reflects negatively on your organization.

Next, figure out who will be responsible for managing the social media program. Make sure to dedicate the necessary resources to the person who will be overseeing your social media program.

Finally, allow your staff some flexibility. The social media landscape seems to change every day. Today, the popular platforms are Facebook and Twitter. Tomorrow may be a different story. Allow your staff the flexibility to experiment with new ideas so that they will be ahead of the competition when Facebook and Twitter are things of the past.

Matt Smedley is the Social Media Practice Lead for Frause, a communications firm with offices in Portland and Seattle.

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