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Being strategic about social media: Part I

First in a series on social media strategic planning

What would you tell a batch of summer college interns about social media?

I recently was asked to speak to the Daily Herald's interns during our daylong training-fest called Internapalooza. These students come from some of the best universities in the country. There isn't a social media button they don't know how to push. They can out Tumblr, Vine and RebelMouse me and half my newsroom.

What can we veterans tell them out social media that their crack instructors haven't?

That social media success is about a lot more than buttonoloy. How to push a button on Twitter or hootsuite or Dlvr.It isn't as important as why, what or when you should tweet.

We should apply the same skeptical editing skills -- and natural curiosity -- that should be second nature to any journalist.

First, cross "more" off your list as a single definition of success.

Quantity doesn't equal quality. A 500-inch story isn't going to be better read than a 5-inch story. So why would we think that more tweets equals more twitter success? (Or whatever social media platform you're interested in.) And is more always realistic? If you tweet twice today, three times tomorrow, five times next month then, technically, you are doing "more." If you've got 30 friends today and 300 next month, that's also "more." But neither of those things may actually be a "success," and, at some point, will you reach a max on possible friends or tweets.

The second-most common response to defining social media success is "engagement."

Below is a daunting piece of a poster by Brian Solis & JESS3 call the conversation prism. It's a bit intimidating, but it certainly shows you are the center hub of social media wheel with lots of opportunities for engagement. But what is engagement? And what does it get you?

Both "more" and "engagement" aren't necessarily wrong goals, but they aren't good ones without defining how you are going to measure them -- and understanding what they mean.

To draft a good strategic plan for social media, you need to know what your end goal is, how you plan to achieve it and measure it.

And, to do that, you need to learn the basics about various social media platforms, including:

  1. Who is on it?

  2. What are they using it for?

  3. When are they on it?

Once you know what they want, then you can start to craft a campaign to get what you want out of social media.

Up next: Facebook

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