How to get started in social media

Set objectives and measure progress or your efforts will fail.

Set objectives and measure progress or your efforts will fail

Because consumers are most influenced by people they know, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are becoming the most powerful corporate communication tools, according to Josh Bernoff, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

“It’s all about connecting with people,” said Bernoff, co-author of the book “Groundswell” and a keynote speaker at Ragan’s recent Social Media for Communicators conference in Las Vegas.

Social media expert Shel Holtz agrees. “Trust in a traditional spokesperson is low, trust in businesses has plummeted and so has trust with authoritative figures,” said Holtz. “We’re more likely to trust our peers, our friends and word-of-mouth.”

But before you dive into social media, set a clear objective, Bernoff warned.

He cited the example of a retailer who called him for help. The company wanted to start an online community because a competitor had one. An online community is a great idea, but you have to know why you want one, Bernoff said. “Are you trying to learn more about your customer? Spread a marketing message? To improve your retail?”

The retailer answered his questions with an embarrassed silence, Bernoff said.

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